Early Orthodontic Treatment

EARLY ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT FOR CHILDREN

What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment, and why might my child need early treatment? How will early treatment benefit my child in the long run?

These are just a few of the questions surrounding the topic of early orthodontic treatment for children. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age seven. At this point the orthodontist will evaluate whether your child will need orthodontic treatment.

Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future.

HOW TO EVALUATE IF YOUR CHILD REQUIRES EARLY ORTHODONTIC CARE:

  • Baby teeth that fall out too early or too late (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all permanent teeth around age 13)
  • Chewing and/or biting problems
  • Mouth breathing
  • Your child continues sucking his or her thumb after age five
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
  • Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner or even at all
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
  • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight

WHAT CAUSES ORTHODONTIC PROBLEMS, AND HOW WILL EARLY TREATMENT BENEFIT MY CHILD?

Crowding, gaps between teeth, jaw development issues, projecting teeth, and poor bites might be inherited or caused by oral trauma, early or late tooth loss, or thumb-sucking.

By the age of 13, children have lost their baby teeth and their jaw bones have calcified and stopped growing. For adults, extractions or oral surgery may be required. Early orthodontic therapy may help prevent the need for adult orthodontics, reducing the risk of extraction or surgery.

Please contact our office to schedule an appointment if your child is between the ages of 7 and 8 and shows signs of orthodontic need, or if your family dentist has advised it. Our experts will check your youngster and advise you on the best way to care for their smile.