Differences between pediatric and adult orthodontics

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with the study, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of anomalies that may exist in the occlusion of the teeth and in the growth of the maxillary and mandibular bones. Treatments are carried out using different orthodontic appliances whose objective is to harmonize the growth of a child’s face and the patient’s occlusion.

How does pediatric orthodontics differ from adult orthodontics?

Well, orthodontics has different objectives depending on the age of the patient. When we treat a child with orthodontics, the objectives we have to consider are either to avoid possible future problems in the occlusion or in the growth of the child or to stimulate the growth of the maxillary bone and the mandible if there is a difference in the position or size of these bones. When the child is a little older, at twelve years of age, in adolescence, we move on to treatment with braces, with fixed appliances, with Invisalign and the objective is completely different, we no longer base or focus so much on treatment of the bones, but what we do is to place the teeth to correct the malocclusion.

From what age should a child go to the orthodontist to have his or her teeth checked?

A child should start visiting the dentist at around two, three years of age. He/she should be seen by the pediatric dentist, who is the dental specialist for young children. In 90% of cases it will never require treatment, but in that 10% we can detect problems early on that may require early treatment. After that, at around six years of age, they should go to the orthodontist, who is the orthodontic specialist, and on some occasions they require early treatment due to skeletal bone problems that are very easy to correct during the growth of the child, but if we move on to an adolescent or even an adult patient with this problem, the solution will be much more complex.

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What are the latest developments in the field of orthodontics?

In contemporary orthodontics today, almost all the novelties and developments are related to adult orthodontics. The current trend is to develop customized, individualized appliances, made to measure for each patient. Until today we had standard brackets, all patients were fitted with the same bracket and for several months we had to make compensations, working on the case to individualize the final result. Today this is no longer the case. By means of individualized appliance fabrication, we are able to shorten the treatment time by many months compared to traditional orthodontics. Today, by means of an intraoral scanner, we scan the patient’s mouth, we obtain a 3D digital model that we transfer to the computer directly, and this digital model we send to California or Germany, which is where the factory is located, so that they can develop the appliance to measure for us. Not only do we have a customized fabrication of the appliance, but also through the computer, through 3D design, we are able to move the teeth and show the patient before starting the treatment what the final result is going to be and he will be able to see a smile design tailored to him in much less time.