5-12 Years Old

About Orthodontics

This is a time of transition from primary to permanent teeth and for reconfiguration of the jaw joint structures. We want to make sure that there are no cross bites or constriction of the dental arches that require an abnormal joint shift to bring the teeth together. We also want to assure normal eruption of the permanent molars, as they are important for the normal function of the joint.

At this time too, we want to assure proper alignment of the incisors, top and bottom, and correct alignment of the cuspids or “eye teeth.” (They can sometimes become impacted in the arch or look like fang teeth!) This is a time for rapid growth of the body and the face, and for that reason, it’s a good time to make any necessary changes in the development of the face. This is the age group of children who often receive head gears, for example, to correct overbites and underbites.

At Carlsbad Pediatric Dental Care, we support the position of the American Association of Orthodontists that children receive a comprehensive orthodontic evaluation by age 7. The evaluation will include standard arch length measurements, registration of their bite and a panoramic radiograph study of their face. When appropriate, a consultation with the orthodontist, pediatric dentist and parents is scheduled to discuss any treatment recommendations.

Panoramic Radiograph

When your child’s first permanent molars erupt, we will suggest taking their first panoramic radiograph. This radiograph is critical for us to see the presence, or absence, of the permanent teeth as well as their shape and eruption pattern. We are also able to evaluate the development of the jaw joint (temperomandibular joint) and the presence of many pathological conditions that affect the jaws. This radiograph is critical to many decisions that we make concerning your child’s restorative and orthodontic care.

Preventing cavities

We recommend that parents continue to teach and reinforce good nutrition, including healthy snacking habits and good oral hygiene with their child. We strongly recommend that a parent continue to help a child to brush and floss his teeth until he is 7 or 8. A good rule of thumb is that if he cannot tie his shoes, he can’t do an adequate job of brushing and flossing his teeth. Continue to schedule and keep regular continuing care appointments, or dental check-ups, for your child every 6 months.

Mouth guards for sports

We are very supportive of the use of mouth guards in any contact sports, including football, soccer, and hockey. Mouth guards not only protect the teeth, but can reduce concussions, brain injuries, and injuries to the joints. A mouth guard must be comfortable and not cumbersome, so that the child will use it. If you have trouble finding one to fit, we can make a custom one for your child.

Chewing gum

We encourage the use of sugarless gum to help prevent tooth decay! Sugarless gum can actually clean the biting surfaces of the molars and stimulate saliva production. This brings minerals to the surface and helps the teeth heal. Keep in mind that gum with sugar is very bad for the teeth.

Sealing out decay

Sealants can be used to protect the decay-prone areas of the back teeth, and are possibly the best preventive care measures that we can provide. Studies show that sealants can reduce caries in these teeth by 70%. If a teenager has never had decay, we may not suggest sealing his teeth – particularly if he brushes and flosses well and has a healthy diet. However, if a teenager has had a history of cavities, it may be a reasonable recommendation. Sealing can be an effective preventive measure, but should be considered on a case-by-case basis.