June 12, 2013 • Article • Comments Off
LAKEVILLE, PRIOR LAKE AND MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – We get it. The process of taking time off from work, dashing to check your child out of school and getting her to the orthodontist sometimes can take longer than the actual appointment.
We’re sure there are times you might even question the importance of a checkup that lasts 10 minutes or less. That’s the topic we’re tackling today: understanding why these quick observation/revisit appointments are vital to your child’s orthodontic treatment.
We have talked for years about how our adult and pediatric orthodontics practice supports the American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendation of having kids evaluated by age 7. Doing so enables you and your child to become established with an orthodontist who can create a growth and development monitoring plan that best addresses your child’s needs.
“There are isolated occasions when your child would require treatment at this young age,” says Dr. Trudy Bonvino, an orthodontist in Burnsville and Prior Lake who offers treatment with multiple types of braces and appliances, including Invisalign. “However, it is more common that your child would be placed on a monitoring program that involves observation/revisit appointments so we can watch as the teeth erupt and determine the best time to begin treatment, should treatment be necessary.”
That’s why we schedule your child for these brief orthodontic observations and revisits periodically. Sometimes we simply need to visually observe your child’s bite and alignment. Other times, we need to take a new set of photographs and/or X-rays. But just because these appointments may be quick and your child spends much less time in the exam chair than you spent getting her there, don’t think they aren’t necessary.
“When we treat young patients, we are careful to plan orthodontic treatment with their growth spurts,” Dr. Bonvino says.
Children grow fast, and using your child’s growth to our advantage frequently enables us to treat conservatively and avoid the need for lengthier, more invasive – and sometimes more expensive – treatments in the future.
The Purpose of Observation/Revisit Appointments
By establishing a baseline at your child’s initial evaluation, it allows Dr. Bonvino to help identify the right timing to begin treatment. Observation/revisit appointments are designed to help us monitor your child’s growth to better time the treatment, or find the ideal time to start treatment.
“Ultimately, these appointments mean your child will have her braces on for a shorter period of time because they enable us to find the ideal time to start treatment,” she says.
This is particularly helpful when significant facial and skeletal corrections must be made. Using your child’s growth to help correct some bite and alignment discrepancies enables us to make treatment more comfortable for her. A good example of this is correcting an underbite. We can correct this type of malocclusion with appliances that help control jaw growth and teeth eruption patterns when the child is young and still growing. Waiting until growth is complete to address underbite can require painful surgery to break the jaw and set it into proper position.
Correcting alignment issues before teeth become calcified in the bone also makes shifts in alignment more comfortable and sometimes easier.
“Remember: we’re moving teeth within the bone and trying to time it right,” Dr. Bonvino, a pediatric orthodontist in Prior Lake, says.
Occasionally, teeth can become impacted. Observation/revisit appointments help ensure teeth are erupting on time biologically. When a tooth has developed and become impacted, that advances the level of treatment needed. On the other hand, if we can identify early on that a tooth is not erupting as it should, we can intervene. We have identified this problem in patients’ canine teeth and removed the baby tooth early to create a path for the potentially impacted canine.
So the next time you compare the time and effort spent getting your child to appointments to the time she spends in the chair, remember the big picture. That time and effort will pay big dividends on her future treatment. And for that, she will thank you.