Orthodontic Tips May 14, 2011

Orthodontic Tips May 14, 2011

Seven is a magical number for an orthodontist.

Braces usually go on about the age of eleven, so what’s up with seven?

Seven is the age that permanent damage starts to occur. That’s when the top adult front teeth come in.

Here are three stories that show different situations that were either met with or avoided, and they all happened this week.

I was putting braces on a 13 year old girl this Thursday. While I was placing the braces on her front teeth which were crowded out of position, I had difficulty figuring out the orientation of the braces because the corners of the crowded teeth were worn away. This wear was because of abnormal collisions of the teeth during chewing.

It’s true that the dentist can restore the corners fairly easily, but this is permanent damage that will last this person all her life. If several baby teeth were removed at the age of seven this damage could have been avoided.

Another memorable patient I saw this week was a seven year old girl. She was small for her age and quite anxious. The treatment required a long appointment to correct a crossbite. It went slowly because I had to give her a lot of emotional support throughout the appointment. However when I was finished I had a great deal of satisfaction since I knew that the expansion appliance I inserted that day would correct her crossbite and prevent a permanent facial asymmetry.

Finally, a seven year old boy I saw this week illustrates how I prevented an impaction from occurring. The x-ray I took showed that the severe crowding of his front teeth prevented his permanent eye teeth from erupting properly. The eye teeth were stuck high in the bone of his upper jaw at the level of the hard palate. This was a recipe for disaster. The common result of this is “cuspid impaction” which requires aggressive surgical exposures and an additional 8 months of orthodontic care. The correct action was simply to have the dentist remove the baby cuspid teeth to relieve the crowing, which will straighten the front teeth. He will still need braces but the likelihood of impacted cuspids has been reduced tremendously.

I will treat patients at any age, but seven is “magic” for an orthodontist.

Have a great week.

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