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Pre-orthodontics for 1-5 year old children

Pre-orthodontics for 1-5 year old children.

In order to understand the need for treatment at this age, one needs to understand the normal growth and development of a child from the age of 1-5yo. These include:

  •  Rapid growth of the top and bottom jaw – by the age of 4yo the child’s jaw is already 60% of its adult size
  • Rapid increase in the size of the head and face
  • Constant learning of new things each day from a simple smile to how to put a few words together.
  • Use of their face and musculoskeletal system as they learn to crawl, walk, feed, chew and talk.
  • The teeth are developing within their jaws and the jaws are enlarging to accommodate the teeth and tongue.

 What factors can affect the normal jaw/facial development in this age group?

  •  Exposure to soft highly processed foods so children do not need to chew their food.
  • Exposure to additives and preservatives and sugar in the food which make children hypersensitive and hyperactive.
  • Environmental chemicals, toxins and environmental allergens in clothing and plastics can cause breathing problems and impact nasal breathing
  • Using dummies, bottles, sippy cups and spoons for eating
  • Dealing with a sanitized world that destroys their natural bacteria in their skin and gut and they develop allergies and sensitivities to food and environment as their immune systems are on high alert.
  • Habits like thumb and finger sucking and other habits.
  • Tongue ties and lip ties that can affect feeding especially for babies
  • Constant upper respiratory tract which encourages mouth breathing

What are some things a parent or carer may notice in their child to suggest there could be a problem?

  • There are no spaces between the baby teeth
  • All the top and bottom teeth are tightly together or there is overlapping of the teeth
  • When the child bites their teeth together, there is either a large gap between the top and bottom teeth called an anterior open bite, or you cannot see the bottom teeth which is called a deep bite
  • Your child has his or her mouth open most of the time
  • Your child cannot chew their food with their mouth closed
  • Speech issues with the tongue thrusting forward when speaking and swallowing
  • Difficulty eating/chewing foods like meat and choking on food and difficulty swallowing
  • Bad breath, dental plaque, staining and cavities in their teeth

    How does pre-orthodontic treatment help children in this age group?

    • It guides and nurtures of the growth and development of the child during this critical age.
    • It can minimize future orthodontic problems.
    • It sets the foundation to encourage natural jaw growth and development.
    • It is focused on identifying potential disruptions and making small changes to put the child onto the right growth trajectory for health and well-being.
    • It does not involve palate expansion, braces, expensive appliances, long treatment durations or other early orthodontic interventions.

    What does pre-orthodontic treatment look like at the dental gallery?

    Lydia our Orofacial Myologist assesses and manages your child’s:

    • functional issues
    • structural issues
    • airway and breathing
    • works with parents to manage habits including thumb sucking
    • performs Myofunctional therapy targeting the area of importance for the child (shortened version of the full program)
    • general breathing and postural work
    • by use of simple aids, without the expensive orthodontic appliances

    What is the level of commitment involved?

    The above program (3-5 sessions with Lydia) is a simple way we can help functional development in these young children. Lydia works during these sessions to teach the adults the skills, so they can supervise and implement the program at home. This is combined with consideration of the role of nutrition, sleep, habits and the environment of the children. Parents will need to be committed to do the following:

    1. Re-evaluate the child’s diet and introduce more whole foods and reduce processed foods
    2. Work to reduce the habits like thumb sucking, sippy cup use
    3. Use the simple aids as recommended by Lydia for 2-10 minutes a day (gradual progression based on the age and ability of the child)
    4. Work to encourage good eating practices for their kids – such as chewing with their mouth closed and proper seating for ideal posture while eating.
    5. Simple exercises that can be incorporated during bath or play time with the child or even in the car while listening to the child’s favorite music. (this is a basic version of the full Myofunctional program of 8-10 sessions)
    6. Examine the reasons for mouth breathing with your medical health professional- (appropriate referrals can be provided to you.)

    Is the pre-orthodontic program going to prevent the need for palate expansion or early orthodontic treatment?

    This program is not a substitute for early orthodontic treatment involving palate expansion and is not a substitute for braces or any other orthodontic treatment. It is a program aimed to prevent the worsening of the issues already present in your child to minimize the severity of the growth and development problems. The level of benefit depends on the severity of the problem and the ability of the child and parent to implement the program at home. It sets the stage for the child to start good breathing, good posture, good nutrition and sleep, good resting tongue position, good lip seal. These basic features help to reduce the severity of the orthodontic problem and also makes any further orthodontic intervention less involved and easier if we had good compliance during this program.

    If these children require palatal expansion, Lydia will involve Dr Nomita Gonsalvez, as some children do require early orthodontic intervention with palatal expansion even in this age group. This is similar to the 5-12 year old age group, as the child’s palate is structurally very narrow.

    Is pre- orthodontic treatment expensive?

    The cost of the program is small compared with the benefits for the child. The initial session is the assessment and documentation session with videos and photos of what your child’s current condition is. The cost for this is $175. This is followed by 3-5 sessions at $85 per session.

    What can you expect to observe in your child after this program is successfully implemented? Benefits of pre-orthodontic treatment? 

    If home program is successfully implemented, parents and clinicians can observe the following in the child: 

    1. Cessation of bad habits.
    2. Lip closed at rest
    3. Tongue on the palate at all times even when swallowing
    4. Nasal breathing at all times during the day and night
    5. Good muscle function while chewing and swallowing
    6. Good posture while eating
    7. Excellent table manners with mouth closed while eating
    8. Better sleep patterns and no snoring