In the previous three blog posts, I’ve discussed the most common indications for Phase I or early orthodontic treatment:
1) To resolve problems that will interfere with normal growth and development of the jaws (Read blog post here)
2) To resolve problems that will prohibit permanent teeth from erupting normally (Read blog post here)
3) Try to avoid extraction of permanent teeth during full orthodontic treatment (Read blog post here)
However, there other reasons for pursuing Phase I treatment. In this blog post, I’ll discuss two of those reasons:
1) To reduce the chance of injury to front teeth
2) To improve social well-being
As a father of two boys who love to rough-house, I think about the potential for dental trauma all the time. The following statistics should come as no surprise:
*By age 14, 19% of boys have experienced trauma to at least one front tooth (compared to 10% of girls)
*Of those with injuries to their front teeth, 84% occurred in upper front teeth.
The severity of these injuries is highly variable, but they do range from minor injuries to tooth loss. In some cases, the replacement of lost teeth can cost thousands of dollars!
Here are a few more statistics that I find interesting involving trauma to front teeth:
*The odds of trauma to upper front teeth are 2.8 times higher when the child has an overbite between 6.5 and 9mm compared to those with overbites of 3.5mm and less
*The odds of trauma to upper front teeth are 3.7 times higher when the child has an overbite of greater than 9.5mm compared to those with overbites of 3.5mm and less
For reference, nearly all orthodontic patients finish treatment with less than 3.5mm of overbite and 9mm is about the width of a finger. So, the takeaway message is that orthodontic treatment can greatly reduce the chances of dental injuries, particularly to upper front teeth!
Probably the least common reason for pursuing early orthodontic treatment, but, one that deserves mention is if there are social issues that are severe and negatively affecting the child. There is a wealth of orthodontic and psychology research supporting the following claims:
-Unfavorable facial appearance has a negative impact on self esteem
-Children with orthodontic problems experience greater amounts of bullying
-Crooked teeth result in less favorable first impressions
-Teachers have less academic expectations of children with orthodontic problems
I don’t know about you, but I find these realities to be both sad and powerful for children, especially those struggling with self-confidence issues. Unfortunately, so much of our self-image and world view is determined during the transitional dentition, typically between the ages of 8-12. Sometimes, the social ramifications for fixing crooked teeth justifies early orthodontic treatment, before all the permanent teeth are in.