Articles - Stages of Growth
1st Stage of Growth -- 0 - 6 years
Deciduous (Baby) Teeth
Education / Prevention / Habit Correction / Interception
In this critical stage, we are concerned with much more than just teeth. The position, size and symmetry of the jaws; future growth; spacing of the teeth; correct breathing, chewing and swallowing; and any oral habits which may eventually lead to abnormal facial development.
* For example, if a child is unable to breathe through his or her nose – the tongue will not rest on the roof of the mouth, leading to a narrow upper jaw and nose and probably crowded and crooked teeth.
* If a child has repeated middle ear infections and tonsillitis we may be able to correct it by enlarging the jaws, opening the bite or referring to an allergy or an ENT specialist.
* If a child (or an adult) is tongue-tied it will not only affect speech, but their dental and facial development as well.
* If a child has poor habits, such as thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting, problems will develop and we can help.
We can give advice on the benefits of breast-feeding (developing the mouth and face, and correct swallowing etc.), chewing solid foods, diet, cleaning, pitfalls to look out for, as well as learning to feel comfortable at the dentist.
Treatment indicated in this stage of development is often very successful and can reduce or eliminate the need for future treatment.
2nd Stage of Growth -- 7 - 10 years
Mixed Dentition (Baby and Adult) Teeth
Interception / Orthopaedic and Dental Correction
In this second stage of development we can assess if dento-facial (bony) and orthodontic problems are likely to occur. X-rays can show if teeth are missing, if any extra or abnormal teeth are developing, if dental crowding is likely and if the jaws are properly developed and aligned. We can look again for bad habits, e.g. thumb-sucking; poor swallowing; mouth-breathing; poor body posture; soft, sugary or acidic diet.
Some of the common treatments in this stage are :
* Development of narrow arches with expansion appliances, either removable or fixed
* Correction of dental cross-bites (which can restrict growth and damage teeth)
* Aligning permanent incisors with partial braces
* Myofunctional Training appliances
* Training for correct breathing, swallowing habits and posture
* Biobloc Orthotropics® for maximising correct facial growth
* Referral to specialists ENT’s, Allergists, Cranial Osteopaths, Chiropractors etc
This is a good age to start treatment as your child’s hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic and orthopaedic guidance. Success is dependent on good co-operation and may mean little or no later treatment is required.
3rd Stage of Growth -- 10 - 18 years
Permanent and sometimes Baby Teeth
Correction / Rehabilitation / Retention
In the third stage, we look at how your child’s teeth and jaws fit together. The jaw joint (TMJ), airway, facial profile and posture are all examined.
In this stage fixed braces are often used, although various types of removable appliances can be used in conjunction with and sometimes instead of braces.
Children at this stage are often self-conscious about their appearance. Many of the appliances used are very small and some are invisible or alternately can be brightly coloured. All however require good co-operation from patient and parent.
To keep the teeth in their newly corrected positions retainers must be worn. These are removable but can be replaced by permanent retainers. Correct oral posture is essential for ideal life-long retention.
Final Stage of Growth -- Adults
Correction / Rehabilitation / Retention
As an adult you may not be growing any taller but the cells in your body continue to turn over throughout life. The cells that take away bone, for example, need to be in balance with the cells that create new bone. For this reason orthodontic movement of teeth is possible at any age. We have treated patients in their 50's and there is no reason why a 90 year old could not be successfully orthodntically treated.
A full course of treatment is a similar length of time for adults as it is for children - on average about 15 -16 months. However now we can also offer a rapid alignment of the front teeth in about 6 months and sometimes less ! (See the section on Rapid Smiles and Six Month Braces). Often straightening the teeth and heving a "nice" smile is something you may have always wanted, but not had the finance or the time to get done. Various types of "invisble braces" and other appliances are now available that can minimise any embarassment.
Combined treatments may be able to not only straighten teeth, but also replace missing teeth or enlarge small or worn teeth and we often finish adults with tooth whitening for a brighter smile.
Other major benefits of Adult treatment may include :--
* a reduction or elimination of headaches of dental or TMJ origin
* it is much easier to clean straight teeth than crooked ones, and therefore your gums may be healthier. This not only looks better, it smells better and you may live longer as there is now research linking Perodontal (Gum) Disease to both Heart Disease and possibly Alzheimer's Disease
* a reduction and possible elimination of snoring and the potentially life-threatening Obstructive Sleep Apnoea . (See the section on Snoring and OSA)
* correcting a tongue-tie can improve speech, help to stabilise tooth positions and can also help reduce hedaches