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Dentistry for Kids and Teenagers

Growth and Development

The child's age determines the dental treatment.

Age 2-3
Thumb habit, tongue habit, finger habit, allergic shiners, large tonsils, mouth breathing are easily recognized. Parents should be concerned about the long term affects of these habits.

Usually the parents will ask the question, and we can begin the process of evaluation, diagnosis and correction of problems. This should be done while the child is in the development phase, instead of waiting until the problem has the time to alter the facial development of the child.

This is the time to begin treatment, and to begin the process of diagnosing the problem: it means child's Airway Ear Nose Throat Evaluation.

Age 4
Sixty percent of cranio-facial growth is complete.

Age 7
Seventy percent of cranio-facial growth is complete.

Age 12
Ninety percent of cranio-facial growth is complete. Interestingly enough children do not complain of nasal obstruction problems until about age 16. They seem not to know the difference between a clear airway and an obstructed airway. Children who have hypertrophied adenoids, tonsils and inferior turbinates develop the long face syndrome as much as 30 percent of the time. In contrast, children who have normal patent airways and normal respiratory function develop long face syndrome only 2 percent of the time.

Treatment

There is a great need to help guide the eruption of teeth in a child, beginning at age four or five. There are many factors that influence the proper eruption sequence of a child’s teeth. If we can intercede at an early age and prevent or reduce the time a child wears braces, what a great gift to both the child and the family. There are many factors that come to play in interceptive functional orthodontic treatment, and I have come to believe that earlier is better in the treatment.

A commonly heard sequence in our office is.

  1. The Child is really grinding his teeth.
  2. The child is restless in his or her sleep.
  3. The child is a mouth breather, his or her mouth is open a great deal of the time when the child is idle.
  4. The child’s teeth are in a cross-bite relationship, and upper teeth are inside lower teeth when the child is biting.
  5. When the child swallows, his tongue pushes against the upper teeth.
  6. The child has a history of three to six upper respiratory infections over a period of one year.
  7. The child’s tonsils are very large as you look into his throat behind his tongue.
  8. When the child awakens in the morning, he or she has bags under their eyes.

If you, your family, or neighbor talks about any one of these symptoms, it would be wise to have an evaluation.

There are very few ugly babies born in this world, and there are very few ugly kids from ages 3 to 9, but from ages nine to sixteen ugly comes into play.

I believe that improper oral and facial habits such as improper breathing and swallowing play a large role in the appearance of our children. It is a positive thought that we can affect health as well as appearance by paying attention to a child’s growth and development. We need not wait and see what occurs naturally. A bit of interceptive treatment can truly affect the child’s dental condition and appearance.

We can begin to correct thumb sucking habits at around the age of three and certainly in most cases eliminate the problem by the time the child enters the first grade. We can begin to correct improper tongue, lip and swallowing habits at about age five and certainly by age eight have the situation under control for the most part.

Aristotle said it best when he said, " Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of reference."

Bill Tipton

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