Preventive Orthodontics

Preventive and Interceptive Orthodontics

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry specialized in the diagnosis, prevention and correction of improper positioning of teeth and jaws.

Proper diagnosis should be made during the first few years of the patient’s life. Many preventive treatments usually begin around six years of age.

Orthodontists use clinical observation and X-rays to diagnose conditions already established. But also, they study the patterns of growth in the young patient to predict potential bad alignment of teeth as well as disproportionate jaw growth. This way it is possible to prevent future complex cases or to stop them in time when they are developing. This is called the preventive or interceptive orthodontics phase.

Early Tooth Loss

One of the most common orthodontic dental problems in children is losing one or more temporary teeth too early.

Losing teeth is a potential problem because the surrounding teeth start to fill in the empty space, becoming tilted, failing to contact properly with the opposing tooth, and reducing the space in the gums for the teeth that haven’t come in yet.

Depending on the case, an orthodontic appliance needs to be used to prevent the remaining teeth from tipping, and also to straighten them and regain some space, among other specific uses. Common orthodontic appliances are:

• Band and loop appliance
• Hawley (removable) appliance
• Lingual holding arch
• Nance appliance
• Distal shoe
• Lip bumper

Braces are needed when teeth need to be moved as a whole to fix poor alignment. Typically, braces are needed after the preventive orthodontics phase to fix small details, but the length and complexity of the case is greatly reduced.

Jaw growth problems

Other more complex orthodontic appliances are used to correct problems of the jaws that may affect the facial proportion and dental position. The headgear appliance is used to modify the growth of the upper jaw and palate-separating devices to correct deficient dental position and biting problems.

When left untreated, several dental conditions may require a lengthy braces treatment. Some may even need maxillofacial surgery. The results may not be the same as if prevented, not to mention the higher costs and longer recovery time.

If you are interested in receiving orthodontic treatment for you or your children in Costa Rica, please fill out the “Help me find a Dentist!” form and a participating dental specialist will contact you to discuss your case.