Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
Parents have many questions when debating whether to begin orthodontic treatment for their children. Why might my child need early treatment, and how is it different from regular orthodontic treatment? How will early treatment benefit my child in the long-run?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first see an orthodontist as early as age seven. At this point, Dr. Gire and Dr. Ismail will evaluate whether or not your child will need orthodontic treatment. If there is no need to start braces, then we will wait and place the braces when all the adult teeth erupt.
Early treatment, also known as Phase One, typically begins around age eight or nine. The next phase, 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 or severe overbite that, if left untreated, would worsen over time and make future treatment more complicated. Early treatment also ensures permanent teeth come in properly, lessening the chance for teeth removal in the future.
If your child exhibits any of these signs, he or she may need early treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and should have all their permanent teeth around age 13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Your child continues sucking their 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 their mouth (crossbites)
- Crowded front teeth around age 7 or 8
What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early treatment benefit my child?
Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites may be inherited; or, may also result from injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb sucking habits.
Beginning orthodontic treatment early can make treatment much easier. Most children have lost the majority of their baby teeth by age 13, and as they age, their jaw bones will harden as cease growing. Because of this, beginning treatment after this growth has stopped can take longer, and also might involve removing teeth or even oral surgery. Beginning treatment as a child can prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, and lessen the chance of needing extractions or surgery in the future.
If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child’s smile.