Teeth Growth Modification in Babies

August 22, 2022

Typically, you think of spacing issues and overbites becoming a problem when a child is between nine and 13. However, because dentists can now spot issues sooner, it's possible to intervene when children are younger to prevent the need for more aggressive treatments in the future.

What Is Growth Modification?

Growth modification is a process that consists of an orthodontist interfering with the development of a child's jaw. The practitioner intervenes using a dental appliance to alter the position, shape, or width of one or both jawbones.

When answering what is growth modification, it's important to note why an orthodontist does it. For one, it could prevent the need for more invasive treatments in the future. Additionally, by altering the jawbones, your child's teeth will grow properly, which could prevent teeth crowding and other issues that make the teeth more prone to decay.

Your child might receive a block, which will shift the jawbone so teeth grow correctly. An activator, on the other hand, moves a jaw forward, while a palate expander widens the top jaw. A lower jaw expander will stretch the lower jawbone.

The length of the treatment depends on the severity of your baby's issue.

What Should You Expect During Growth Modification?

Your child's jawbones might not grow at the same rates, which will result in alignment problems. Through an analysis, the orthodontist can determine if your child has a misalignment based on appearance and habits.

Next, the orthodontist will intervene with a customized dentofacial device. Since infants are at risk of choking and tend to put their fingers in their mouths, an orthodontist positions the device so it remains fixed in place.

When Is Growth Modification Most Effective?

An orthodontist uses this treatment before growth spurts to stop the jaw from growing improperly. Generally, this is before puberty.

However, orthodontists have discovered that this treatment can be effective when a child is an infant, and the jaw is still forming. A dentist might notice signs that your baby could benefit from this treatment. For instance, growth modification is most effective when your baby has a narrow jaw.

Additionally, growth modification is also most effective when an infant thumb-sucks or mouth breathes. Mouth breathing can alter the shape of the mouth and so can thumb sucking. An orthodontist could recommend growth modification if your infant's tongue is in a forward posture.

It's also possible to tell if an infant could benefit from this treatment if your infant has lower jaw overgrowth. On the other hand, a dentist could recommend it if your child's upper jaw is underdeveloped.

A dentist might also recommend growth modification for the following reasons:

  • Sunken midface
  • Short lower face
  • Long lower jaw
  • Short lower jaw
  • Facial asymmetry

Why Is Growth Modification Important in Orthodontics?

Intervening early can prevent a number of issues in the future. It stops the jaw from growing improperly. It could also save you money in the future because your child won't need expensive treatments due to jawbone growth issues.

When the jaw bone grows improperly, it can impact how your child chews. Ultimately, this can lead to nutrient deficiencies if your child isn't able to eat a well-balanced diet. Your kid could also experience pain when he or she chews.

Appearance is another aspect of your little one's life that could be affected by improper jaw development. Since the jaw defines your tot's smile, it could become apparent as he or she ages. A problem with your child's appearance could lead to self-esteem issues. For example, your child may hesitate to smile or only partially smile to hide his or her teeth. Growth modification can allow your kid to smile radiantly.

To answer what is growth modification, it was originally for prepubescent children. However, it's possible to correct jaw problems early when your child is still an infant in some cases. This could alleviate an older child being apprehensive of getting a corrective procedure. Not to mention, it could prevent problems in the future.

Book an appointment with Baker Pediatric Dentistry, serving Idaho Falls, ID, and the nearby region, to see if growth modification is right for your child by calling 208-524-5050.

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