In many of my columns I have discussed the success that dentistry has been able to achieve through it's scientific advances in preventative care. The goal and focus in modern dentistry is on preventative care and the results of this philosophy are impressive. A survey conducted several years ago by the National Institute of Dental Research dramatically demonstrates how effective these preventative measures, including fluoridation, sealants, proper brushing, flossing, gum care and diet have been. Specifically it showed that among those age 65 and older 42 percent were missing all their teeth and only 2 percent had a full compliment of their permanent teeth. However among middle aged adults only 4 percent were missing all their teeth and half had lost only one tooth.
This philosophy of prevention has proven equally successful in the area of dentistry known as orthodontics.
In the past children with "bite problems" or "crooked teeth" otherwise known as malocclusions had to wait until all their permanent teeth were in to begin orthodontic treatment. They just had to put up with any physical, emotional or social discomfort until they were "old enough" to receive braces. Depending on the extent of their malocclusion, they could be in their braces until their late teens.
The strategic cornerstone of modern orthodontic dentistry is practicing prevention through intervention. In other words correcting little problems before they become big ones. Interceptive orthodontics takes advantage of the fact that growth of the jaws and other oral structures is still taking place and therefore can be guided toward a more functional and esthetic end. We can treat a young child's jaw, teeth and other oral structures while they are developing, instead of waiting until it has developed poorly and then trying to "fix it". We use a variety of modern techniques and devices to improve the way the jaw is growing and to guide the permanent teeth so they will come in straight and healthy.
Earlier treatment helps children speak better and eat properly. It may eliminate the need for extractions to correct the bite. It reduces and in some cases may eliminate the time spent in braces.Practicing preventatively through interceptive orthodontics to enhance facial growth and development and straighten teeth is a great investment in our children s future and dental health.