Early evaluation can avoid orthodontic problems later

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Doctors Charlene Sugay, Kimberly Gronberg and Lauren Davis help children and adults improve their smile at Gronberg Orthodontics in Highland Village.

Whether for your children or yourself, summer is a great time to have your teeth checked by an orthodontist.

“We’re not only looking at alignment of their teeth, but the growth and development of their jaws,” said Dr. Kim Gronberg, owner of Gronberg Orthodontics in Highland Village.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends having children receive their first evaluation by age seven or eight. Even though most will not need treatment for several years, being evaluated then can help plan for the future.

“Sometimes there are issues we pick up on that the dentist can’t see in their routine X-rays,” said Gronberg. “If we can see something early, we can intervene and may be able to avoid problems later.”

Orthodontists go to dental school for four years just as general dentists, but orthodontists spend an additional two to three years of residency to learn their specialty. That allows Gronberg and fellow doctors Lauren Davis and Charlene Sugay and their staff to focus on one area.

“Sometimes there are problems with development of the teeth and jaws that, if caught early, may prevent more extensive treatment later,” said Gronberg, whose practice celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall.

Besides diagnosing irregularities in position of the teeth, orthodontists also diagnose abnormalities in position of the jaws. One common abnormality is a cross-bite, where the top jaw is too narrow. This can cause asymmetric growth, because patients hold their jaw off to one side.

“When jaws are too narrow, it can also lead to impacted teeth, because of the lack of space,” Gronberg said. “It may lead to costlier and more involved treatment later. If we see something early and make more room, we can hopefully prevent future problems.”

Another problem they see is protruded upper front teeth, which can be susceptible to fracture upon falling.

“If we can reduce the protrusion early, hopefully we can keep the trauma from happening,” Gronberg said.

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