Starting Young – Martin Oates

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  Posted by: Dental Design      6th November 2017

Bullying is considered endemic among UK schoolchildren, with studies finding about 27 per cent of British 8-9 year-olds reporting being bullied “sometimes”, while 10 per cent of 11 to 16-year-olds said they experienced bullying sometimes The figure for adolescent patients seeking orthodontic procedures was 15 per cent, with overjet, crowding and a deep overbite eliciting the most negative treatment. Bullied children with malocclusion reported lower levels of social and athletic competence and self-esteem in comparison to non-bullied peers.

The question for many parents whose children present with malocclusion is when to have them evaluated and when treatment should begin. The British Orthodontic Society (BOS) states that treatment in most children should begin from age 12 to 13 with the eruption of their permanent teeth. In contrast, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAS) recommends the first orthodontic check-up is conducted no later than age 7 to allow the orthodontic specialist to monitor the child’s growth and development.

Perhaps there is a middle ground for treatment solutions. Researchers assessed the effects of orthodontic treatment for Class II malocclusion – a problem that affects about 25 per cent of 12-year-olds in the UK – in children aged 7 to 11 years old. They concluded that embarking on a two-phase orthodontic treatment, with the first beginning at an early age and the second in adolescence, was more effective in reducing the incidence of incisal trauma compared to only one course of treatment in adolescence.

We are all aware that some private orthodontist practices in the UK already offer evaluations for children as young as 7 years of age. Of course, treatment must be handled with care and sensitivity in respect to the youth of the patient, including using the most painless and efficient methods. An example is Bite-Chek, an articulation film with an easy-grip handle for occlusal equilibration adjustments. Available exclusively in the UK from Dental Express (a trading division of Surgery Express LLP), its innovative design means an end to the awkwardness of fumbling with forceps that will put young patients at ease as well as greater accuracy in occlusal measurements.

Although the debates continues over the proper age to start orthodontic evaluations in children, there is no contention about doing the best for young patients with malocclusion to improve their appearance and quality of life.

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