Dr. Robert Seaman in Lenexa, KS has been providing orthodontic care to children in Johnson County for over 25 years, parents enjoy the convenience of having one dentist for all their children’s dental needs.

Children ages 6-12 years can often benefit from early orthodontic treatment. Several situations, some inherited, can be corrected through early intervention to help children develop a proper bite and alignment in their later years. After the list of conditions below, each condition and how it is treated early is discussed further.

These conditions include:

  • Improper jaw alignment
  • Small arch size resulting in crowding of the teeth
  • Early loss of baby teeth
  • Harmful habits such as thumb sucking

Improper Jaw Alignment

Ideally aligned teeth with good occlusion (the way the teeth come together – the bite) chew food efficiently, help with speaking, and provide a beautiful smile. Improper jaw alignment can take a couple of forms. The upper teeth may be too far forward from the lower teeth or the lower jaw could be positioned so the lower teeth jut out passed the upper teeth.

Although these improper jaw alignments (called malocclusions) can be corrected as a teen or at times as an adult, in many cases it is best to correct these problems as a child. Receiving orthodontic treatment as a child to correct improper bite relationships allows the developing bone to be guided in a more ideal direction. This can create a more stable long term alignment and possibly prevent more difficult treatments when older. If your child has an improper bite, please contact us today for an appointment to discuss orthodontic care with Dr. Seaman.

Small Arch Size

Small arches are another orthodontic problem which can be treated early by guiding the growth of the bone holding the teeth. By creating wider arches we provide more room for the permanent teeth to come in, resulting in better positioning of the teeth. Utilizing orthodontic appliances as a young child to widen the arches as they are growing decreases or eliminates the need to have permanent teeth removed as a teen or adult in order to create space, to correct crowding issues.

There are many appliances that can be used with children depending on the specific situation with each child. Both upper and lower arches can be widened when needed to create more space in the arches for permanent teeth to come in properly. If you have questions regarding your child, please bring him or her in to discuss their specific situation with Dr. Seaman.

Early Loss of Baby Teeth

A baby tooth actually becomes loose and falls out once the permanent tooth which is to replace it begins to push on the roots of the baby tooth. Under normal circumstances each baby tooth keeps a particular spot available for the permanent tooth that will replace it. However, there are situations when a child loses one or more of their baby teeth too soon. When this happens, other permanent teeth may move into an open space where they do not belong. If this happens it may cause the tooth, which was supposed to grow there, to come in crooked or in the wrong space. This situation can be prevented by placing “space maintainers” – devices which will prevent other teeth from moving into a space when a baby tooth is lost or removed too early.

Harmful Habits – Thumb Sucking

Many children find it difficult or impossible to stop sucking on items or their thumb. If this habit is carried on past the age of five, then you should seek the assistance of a dentist. Prolonged habits like this can create improper growth of the arches and/or teeth, but there are appliances which can be placed in the mouth which stop the child’s ability to suck on their thumb or other items. These appliances are fixed (cemented) to teeth to keep them in place and they prevent suction from being able to be formed. Once the habit has stopped, the appliance is removed.

If you would like to learn more about other conditions which can be treated with orthodontics there are videos of many other conditions on our Orthodontics page. We also have a financial options page to find out more about payment options.

At Seaman Family Dentistry in Lenexa, KS we want to help you recognize and treat these early orthodontic problems. If you feel your child may need or could benefit from early orthodontic care, please call us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Seaman to discuss it further or ask him at your child’s next visit to the office.

Proper Care of Orthodontic Appliances

Once your child has an appliance, it is important to keep it clean and safe. The appliance should be brushed regularly with your toothbrush and toothpaste. Removable appliances should be in a case when they are not in the child’s mouth. Do not put them in a paper towel or napkin, this is the most common way appliances are accidentally thrown away. Never leave an appliance in the reach of an animal. Animals, especially dogs, are attracted to the smell of the appliance and they will destroy it, this is the second most common reason appliances need to be replaced during treatment. Some patients also prefer to place their appliances into a denture cleaning solution once a month in the morning (about 30-40 minutes) to remove orders and freshen it up – this is optional.