Many people prioritize regular physical check-ups but overlook regular dental examinations.
The Importance of Regular Dental Examinations
Dr. Chow shared a case study where a young patient had visibly yellowish teeth, especially in crowded areas where plaque buildup was significant. It was only after cleaning the teeth that they discovered the teeth were decayed, with multiple small cavities on the tooth surface that were concealed by the plaque. Fortunately, this young person detected the issue early before it affected the dental nerves, but still required restorative treatment.
Dr. Chow advises patients with misaligned teeth that brushing alone is insufficient to thoroughly clean the teeth. They need to use dental floss to clean the gaps between teeth and overlapping areas, and undergo regular check-ups and cleanings every 6-9 months.
The Golden Time for Correcting Teeth
Dr. Chow suggests that children should undergo a comprehensive assessment starting from the age of 7 to determine if they are suitable for orthodontic treatment. The clinical condition of the child is evaluated, including the evaluation of X-rays during the transition from primary to permanent teeth. If it is observed that the permanent teeth are larger and there is insufficient space for their eruption, leading to tooth crowding, it is recommended to start orthodontic treatment during the transition from primary to permanent teeth. Additionally, it is important to check for cavities in primary or permanent teeth and strive to initiate tooth movement before the eruption of the second molar. If there are cavities, primary teeth can be extracted to create more space for the alignment of teeth.
According to statistics, over 90% of the population in Hong Kong has some degree of periodontal disease. Dr. Chow emphasizes that misaligned teeth can also contribute to cleaning difficulties. Aligning the teeth makes cleaning easier, reducing the risk of cavities and periodontal problems. Additionally, having properly aligned teeth with a normal bite position also benefits jawbone development. Conversely, if orthodontic treatment is postponed until all permanent teeth have erupted, serious cavity issues may have already arisen due to misaligned teeth, affecting the tooth structure and making future orthodontic treatment more complex.
How to Choose the Right Teeth Straightening Treatment?
Currently, there are primarily two types of teeth straightening treatments available: traditional braces with metal wires and invisible braces. Dr. Zhou suggests that they first consider the child's compliance because teeth straightening is a collaborative effort between the dentist and the patient. For example, invisible braces are removable, and if a child is unwilling to wear them consistently, they may not be effective. On the other hand, children with low compliance may find it challenging to maintain oral hygiene with traditional braces, increasing the risk of tooth decay. It is also important to assess the child's acceptance level as traditional braces are more noticeable, and some children may be concerned about their appearance and its impact on their confidence. After considering all these factors, the most suitable teeth straightening treatment can be designed for the child.
There are also functional orthodontic devices like Myobrace available now, which only need to be worn for 8-10 hours during sleep and are generally suitable for children aged 6-12. These devices are typically divided into three stages, each with a different function. Generally, the duration of wearing one device is around four to six months, with follow-up appointments every one to two months, achieving the following effects:
1. Gradually aligning the teeth to guide the proper growth of the dental arch.
2. Promoting healthy development of the surrounding oral muscles and tongue muscles.
3. Aiding in the healthy development of the upper and lower jaws.
If the dental arch can grow properly, the need for teeth straightening after the eruption of permanent teeth is significantly reduced, and even if orthodontic treatment is still required, it can be less invasive, with fewer cases requiring tooth extraction.