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Early Treatment

Children's Orthodontist in Kentlands & Gaithersburg, MD

At the office of Dr. Christine Chen and Dr. Charles Harrington, our mission is to help our patients develop and maintain beautiful, healthy smiles through convenient orthodontic treatment. As a leading family orthodontist serving North Potomac, Gaithersburg, Kentlands/Lakelands, Rockville and the surrounding communities, we strive to offer customized orthodontic treatments to patients of all ages. While the majority of our patients are teenagers, we're proud to offer early orthodontic treatment for patients that need to start treatment early on in life.

When Should My Child See the Orthodontist?

Orthodontic Problems.

Sometimes, the best way to achieve a beautiful smile is to start early – and that may mean earlier than you think. In keeping with the American Association of Orthodontists, we ask parents to bring their children in for an initial orthodontic evaluation at age 7. Why this early age? By this point, the back bite has developed. This allows Dr. Harrington to fully evaluate all tooth relationships and check for both current orthodontic problems and any issues that might develop later on. Not every child will need to start treatment at this age, but evaluating at age 7 allows us to monitor your child's growth and choose the ideal time for orthodontic treatment

Children's Orthodontic Care

You may be asking yourself: why would my child need to visit a children's orthodontist? As it turns out, early orthodontic treatment gives us a unique ability to correct a number of orthodontic issues comfortably and conveniently. This is largely because during childhood, the jaws aren't fully formed yet. We can use orthodontic appliances to influence the growth of the jaws, making changes to the smile that would require oral surgery later in life. In particular, early orthodontic care may be necessary for the following orthodontic conditions:

  • Crowding: This problem occurs when there isn't enough room in the smile to accommodate all the teeth, and it's the most common reason for braces. We can use a device called a palatal expander to painlessly widen the jaw, creating more room for teeth and a straighter smile overall.
  • Crossbite: This condition is marked by lower teeth that close outside the upper teeth, impairing jaw growth and bite function. Again, we can use palatal expansion to widen the upper jaw and correct crossbite. 
  • Upper Front Teeth Protrusion: Sometimes, a child's upper front teeth may stick out too far, putting them at risk for chipping, cracking, breakage, and other trauma. Interceptive orthodontic care with your Gaithersburg children's orthodontist can help to prevent this damage, keeping your child's smile healthy as it develops.

Correcting Bad Habits with Your Kentlands Children's Orthodontist

Malocclusions aren't the only thing we can treat through interceptive orthodontics. We can also use orthodontic appliances to correct a number of parafunctional (unhealthy) habits that some children pick up, including:

  • Thumb Sucking: The sucking response is instinctual, and many children suck their thumb for comfort. If thumb sucking continues past age 4, however, it can cause a condition called openbite, where the upper and lower front teeth don't overlap with the mouth closed. We offer an orthodontic appliance that can easily, painlessly correct thumb sucking and prevent openbite. 
  • Tongue Thrusting: Some children develop the habit of pushing their tongue into their teeth as they swallow, a practice called tongue thrusting. Over time, this can actually cause an openbite to form – but we can prevent this by using an orthodontic appliance to prevent tongue thrusting and change your child's swallowing habits. 
  • Mouth Breathing: In this condition, children breathe only through their mouth, leaving the mouth open all of the time. While it may seem harmless, this can cause changes in the musculature and bone structure of the face over time. We offer orthodontic treatments to treat mouth breathing and ensure healthy development.

Contact Your Kentlands & Gaithersburg Family Orthodontist 

Early treatment isn't right for every child – but in some cases, it's the best option for achieving a beautiful, lifelong smile. If you think your child might benefit from seeing a children's orthodontist, contact us today. We'll help you understand the treatment options available, schedule a consultation for your child, and help your child start the path to a healthy, beautiful smile!

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