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 the ages of seven to nine (Phase-Two will begin around age eleven or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as an underbite.
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 their permanent teeth in around age thirteen)
- 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 seven or eight
What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early prevention 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.
By the age of 13, most of our permanent teeth have erupted into the mouth, and by the end of their teen years the jaw bones will harden and no longer continue to grow. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction and the possibility of oral surgery, and this is often due to the lack of jaw growth potential remaining.
If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been referred by your general dentist to see the orthodontist, please contact our office and schedule an appointment. Our welcoming 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. Often times your child will not need treatment at that young age, however, these short visits can be beneficial for the child to begin to feel calm, and comfortable in regards to future orthodontic treatment.