Early Treatment

Orthodontic Treatment in Kentlands & Gaithersburg, MD

At the office of Dr. Charles C. Harrington, we take pride in helping our patients achieve healthy, beautiful smiles that last a lifetime. Dr. Harrington and our expert team work with every patient on an individual basis, designing personalized treatments that match each patient's unique orthodontic needs. We're proud to offer a wide variety of orthodontic treatments at our office, and while many patients receive treatment during adolescence, sometimes it's best to start earlier. 

Early Evaluation for a Lifelong Smile

Orthodontic Problems.

One of the most common things parents ask us about is when they should first take their child in for an appointment – and we love this question. It shows a proactive commitment to orthodontic and oral health, which is the best possible recipe for a great smile. As it turns out, though, the answer might be earlier than you think!

In keeping with the American Association of Orthodontists, we ask parents to bring their children in to see us at age 7. While this may seem early, by this age, the back bite is established, which lets us evaluate all tooth relationships and detect and current or developing orthodontic problems. Most of the time, we won't opt to start treatment yet and will simply monitor your child's development until the perfect time to start. Sometimes, though, it's best to begin early. 

Interceptive Orthodontics

There are a variety of orthodontic problems that are best treated early on. Treating early allows us to take advantage of the natural malleability and growth of your child, which lets us achieve the best possible orthodontic result. A few of the conditions best treated early on include:

  • Crowding: This is the most common cause of needing braces, and it's also often easier to treat through interceptive treatment. Crowding occurs when there isn't enough room in the jaw line to accommodate all the teeth. By treating early, we can use a palatal expander to literally widen the jaw, creating more room for the teeth and helping the smile grow in straight and healthy.
  • Crossbite: Crossbite occurs when the lower teeth sit outside of the upper teeth, which can cause problems in both bite function and jaw growth. We can use palatal expansion to widen the upper jaw, helping the teeth close normally and fixing the problem. 
  • Front Teeth Protrusion: If the upper front teeth protrude out too far over the lower teeth, early treatment may be necessary for a number of reasons. Protruding teeth are more vulnerable to chipping, cracking, and trauma, so treating this condition early helps to protect the teeth. Additionally, treating this condition can help the jaws grow normally and improve a child's self-esteem. 

Habit Correction Through Orthodontics

In addition to treating malocclusions, early orthodontic treatment can also help to prevent problems from developing in the first place by solving certain orthodontic habits. Depending on your child's unique situation, we may recommend early treatment for any of the following habits:

  • Thumb Sucking: This is a perfectly natural – and often, perfectly adorable – habit for infants, but if the habit persists past age 4 or so, it can cause problems with development. Prolonged thumb sucking can cause the front teeth to grow in at a slant, causing a malocclusion called an open bite. We can use an orthodontic appliance to easily, painlessly correct this habit and prevent orthodontic problems from developing. 
  • Tongue Thrusting: This habit occurs when a child pushed their tongue forward as they swallow, which, over time, can put pressure on the upper front teeth and cause them to slant forward. This causes an open bite, and but correcting the problem early on with an orthodontic appliance, we can prevent developmental problems. 
  • Mouth Breathing: Sometimes, children develop the habit of breathing only through their mouth. This leaves the mouth perpetually hanging open, which can cause abnormal growth in the musculature and bone structure of the mouth, face, and jaws. We can use orthodontic treatment to correct this problem and help your child's mouth develop normally.

Contact Your North Potomac, MD Orthodontist

Early treatment isn't right for every patient, but for many, it can be extremely helpful in developing a healthy, beautiful smile. If you think your child might benefit from orthodontic treatment or if it's about time to bring them in for their first visit, we would love to speak with you. Feel free to call us at 301-977-1441 with any questions, reach out to us at our contact page, or use our easy online form to request an appointment at our North Potomac, MD office. We can't wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping your child develop a beautiful, healthy smile!

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