Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
Does my child need early orthodontic treatment? What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic 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 for a screening exam around age seven or eight. At this age, the orthodontist can spot subtle problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth that may be best to address earlier than later. That doesn't mean that every seven or eight year old needs braces as only a small percent do. If your child doesn’t need any early treatment, then at least you have that peace of mind. Even if a problem is detected, Dr. Williams may not recommend immediate treatment. He may take a "wait and see" approach and just monitor your child's dental development periodically.
If needed, early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine and typically lasts around one year. The goal of early treatment is to correct certain issues such as severe crowding, certain bite problems, and jaw growth imbalances. Early treatment can prevent more serious problems from developing and helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future.
How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting food
- Crossbites (teeth biting on the wrong side of the opposing teeth)
- Protruding teeth
- Teeth that don't bite together in a normal manner or even at all
- Thumb or finger sucking beyond age five
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth
- Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
How will early treatment benefit my child?
Early treatment can benefit your child by intercepting the developing problem, eliminating the cause, guiding the growth of the jaw bones, and providing adequate space for incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment now can give your child a better outcome for the future.
Early Orthodontic Treatment Options
Early orthodontic treatment could involve options that range from an expander, partial braces, rubber bands, or other appliances to guide the growth of the jaws and teeth. A more recent option now includes Invisalign First.
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, just call us to schedule a free consultation. Dr. Williams would be happy to evaluate your child's teeth and bite to determine if any early treatment is needed.