Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist at age seven. While your child's teeth may appear to be straight, there may actually be a problem that needs to be monitored or corrected. Not all children need to be treated at this time.
Early treatment (known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight when a child still has many of their primary or "baby" teeth. Early treatment will guide the teeth into a more favorable position, preserve space for permanent teeth, and reduce the likelihood of fracturing protruding teeth. Phase one also assists jaw growth so that it can develop properly and accomodate the permanent teeth. By doing so, we can improve your bite and avoid the need for extracting teeth later on. Treating orthodontic issues early gives us the best chance for lifelong results.
How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all permanent teeth around age 13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- 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?
Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.
Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction 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 office to schedule a complimentary consultation. 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.