Addressing Growth and Development Issues Now Can Prevent Serious Issues in the Future

Growth and development issues can be diagnosed and treated at a young age. By being proactive, you can help prevent a host of serious health issues in the future. In Louisville, KY, and Radcliff, KY, Dr. Knight practices a comprehensive approach to orthodontics, which focuses on aesthetics, function, and health. Dr. Knight adheres to the American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendation that children should attend their first appointment around the age of seven.

For the majority of patients, treatment is not necessary until the age of 11 or 12. However, in cases where growth issues have developed, early treatment can provide a predictable outcome, with shorter treatment time and more cost-efficiency. Dr. Knight can visit with you and your child to determine if early treatment may be necessary.

Common Growth Issues in Children

Discrepancies in the oral and maxillofacial structures can lead to more serious future problems. This is true at any age. However, treating these issues early gives patients the best opportunity for long-term oral and overall health. Some common growth and development issues in children include:

  • Mouth breathing: Open mouth breathing dries out soft tissues in the mouth and throat, and can cause chronic inflammation. Mouth breathing can result in a multitude of problems, including obstructed airways, abnormal facial growth, and tooth crowding. Because it leads to compromised sleep, many researchers believe mouth breathing has a negative impact on behavioral health and academic performance.
  • Asthma: This respiratory disorder can cause significant changes to the oral and maxillofacial structures in young children, resulting in even more complex problems.
  • Compromised airways: While it is common to have congestion during an illness, it is not normal to experience chronic airway obstruction. This condition is often caused by improper position of the upper or lower jaw and can lead to breathing disorders, bite issues, and abnormal facial growth.
  • Constricted palate: When one or more teeth are in reversed positions, this is called crossbite, and it is usually caused by a genetically constricted palate. When treated with a fixed appliance, the palate will expand into a wider and more balanced shape, preventing uneven jaw growth and encouraging better facial harmony and sinus placement.
  • Retruded lower jaw: An underdeveloped lower jaw can give the appearance of an overbite and small chin, and increases the likelihood of developing jaw dysfunction later in life, also known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Orthodontic intervention can bring the lower jaw into better alignment with the upper facial bones.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Sometimes issues remain unseen. By scheduling a visit with Dr. Knight, you can find out if your child is experiencing any growth or development problems. While it is recommended to schedule your child’s first appointment around age seven, it is important to bring them in sooner if you notice any abnormalities or negative habits, such as thumb-sucking or mouth breathing.

During the initial free consultation, Dr. Knight will assess all aspects of the teeth, gums, lips, airways, facial muscles, temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and surrounding structures. Using the latest in diagnostic technology, x-rays and scans will be taken to evaluate the health of the jaws and joints. Once a diagnosis has been determined, Dr. Knight will discuss your options with you.

Many young patients will simply be monitored with occasional check-ups. However, for patients who can benefit from early treatment, Dr. Knight may recommend two-phase treatment to correct issues while they are still growing.

Benefits of Early Treatment

If your child has skeletal discrepancies, early care is optimal. Not only does it prevent your child from developing more serious issues in the future, but it is also more cost-effective and less invasive than waiting until they are older. Children who receive early treatment may be able to avoid orthognathic surgery as an adult. Early orthodontic treatment can:

  • Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Correct negative habits
  • Guide jaw growth
  • Reduce the risk of trauma by correcting overbite
  • Create beautiful, lasting aesthetics for the teeth, gums, lips, and face
  • Achieve function and health in addition to aesthetics

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