If you’ve ever looked into braces for you or your child, you know that orthodontics can cost a pretty penny. However, many parents aren’t aware that there are things we can do to avoid ever needing braces. Along with early prevention measures at home (like avoiding pacifiers and thumb sucking), your general dentist may be able to help keep your child out of the orthodontist chair in the long run with these treatment options.
Close Gaps with a Frenulectomy
Stick your tongue up between your upper lip and the top of your front teeth. Do you feel that strip of skin attaching your lip and gums? That’s a frenulum. You also have one under your tongue. Most of us hardly even notice they’re there, but for some people an over-sized frenulum (a lip-tie or tongue-tie) can cause difficulty talking and eating, and/or leave large gaps between the front teeth.
Some children need the frenulum cut soon after birth due to an inability to latch while nursing. Others with a less significant lip-tie may be able to talk and eat normally, but still seek a frenulectomy later on to help close gaps between the front two teeth.
At South Valley Pediatric Dentistry we preform this procedure by gently separating the frenulum with a soft-tissue laser that cauterizes as it goes. This means no stitches, minimal discomfort and a faster recovery time for your child. Gaps caused by an over developed frenulum will likely close within a few short weeks after a frenulectomy is done, however, some cases may still require further orthodontic treatment.
Create Space with a Palatal Expander
While lip-ties can create wide gaps for some children, others have the opposite problem — not enough space. For patients with a very narrow palate, over crowding can cause crooked, tight, or overlapping teeth. If your child has an undersized palate, a palatal expander may be the answer. This orthodontic device is less invasive and less expensive than braces, and can be fitted at your regular dental office, eliminating the need for multiple appointments with different providers.
A palatal expander is placed across the roof of the mouth and attached to the back molars. Instead of coming in for regular orthodontic adjustments, parents are given instructions to gradually adjust the width of the device at home. By expanding the palate early on, we create room for adult teeth to come in the correct place, which can lead to a straight smile right off the bat!
Treat Crowding with Orthodontic Extractions
Some patients may have relatively straight teeth that are just overcrowded in the mouth. In this case, your dentist may be able to extract one or more teeth to make the others fit. Often, orthodontists will recommend extractions in addition to other orthodontic treatment, but in some cases braces can be avoided by extracting teeth early on as adult teeth come in. Ask your dentist if extractions could help your child avoid overcrowding.
Before you shell out for braces…
It never hurts to ask if another treatment could be right for your child. To schedule a consultation at South Valley Pediatric Dentistry call 801-489-1301.