What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine is chronically bent or crooked. Scoliosis is a painful medical condition, and although the symptoms are mild in youth, they do tend to get worse and worse, and can even eventually cause paralysis, as the nerves can get pinched and damaged.
The causes of scoliosis are usually complex, as every part of the human body affects and interacts with each other. The position of the jaw can affect how the spine is positioned during speech and when eating food and this can contribute to scoliosis. The force that is released when eating or chewing can also affect the spine, if the person’s bite is incorrect.
If there is considerable crowding in a patient when they are children, they can develop a palate that is too narrow, and this tends to contribute to scoliosis, and is also one of the leading causes of speech impediments. Orthodontic treatment can widen the patient’s palate and thus prevent it from becoming too narrow, spacing the teeth out evenly, leading to a more comfortable and healthy position when resting.
The other way in which orthodontic treatment can prevent scoliosis is by fixing cross bite. Cross bite is a condition in which the patient’s jaws do not align to form a straight line when biting down, but rather an ‘x’ shape. This type of bite causes the jaws to bear more stress, even when resting, and causes the occlusal forces of biting and chewing to be born by the jaws and the spine. This can cause the deformation of the spine, causing scoliosis. Cross bite is one of the most easily fixed orthodontic problems, and can sometimes even be fixed by just wearing a retainer.
The importance of starting early
If your child has a narrow facial structure, or has crowding of the teeth, it is important to fix it early to prevent problems in the future. The bones of the jaw can be best manipulated while still young, as bones become harder and more brittle with age. It is best to start orthodontic treatment once the second molars are already erupted, as this is the time that all the teeth are already in the mouth (except the wisdom teeth) and the patient is young enough to easily undergo orthodontic treatment. This is usually around 12-13 years of age.