Confused about the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment and the benefits of early treatment? Unsure of why your child may need early treatment? You'&rsquo';re not alone – most parents have the same questions.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age seven because at this age, dental problems are beginning to become apparent. During the initial visit, the orthodontist will evaluate whether your child will need early orthodontic treatment.
Early treatment (also known as Phase One) begins before all permanent teeth have erupted and typically occurs between the ages of six and ten. During Phase One treatment, the child's jaws are developed to correct bite and growth issues such as an overbite. Early treatment also helps permanent teeth grow in correctly. Once most of the patient's permanent teeth have erupted (typically during ages 11-13), Phase Two treatment will begin to maximize the appearance and function of their adult teeth.
INDICATORS THAT YOUR CHILD MAY NEED EARLY ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT:
- Loses baby teeth early or late
- Difficulty chewing or biting food
- Breathes through their mouth
- Sucks their thumb
- Has crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
- Jaws appear too far forward or back
- Jaws pop or make sounds when opening and closing
- Teeth and jaws are not proportionate to the rest of the face
- Bites the cheek or the roof of their mouth
- Teeth meet abnormally or not at all
HOW DID THESE PROBLEMS OCCUR, AND HOW WILL MY CHILD BENEFIT FROM EARLY TREATMENT?
Orthodontic issues can happen to anyone, but early intervention is crucial to ensure that the problems do not persist and cause more harm to the teeth and gums. Common problems include crowding of the teeth, protruding teeth, and bad bites. These issues may be inherited or caused by mouth injury, thumb-sucking, or the loss of baby teeth.
By age 13, most children are finished losing their baby teeth. Once patients leave their teenage years, their jaw bones will harden and stop developing, making orthodontic care more challenging. Because children's bones are still pliable, treatments such as braces often take less time to complete for children than adults. Receiving early orthodontic care can prevent the need to potentially have teeth extracted or undergo oral surgery due to uncorrected problems as an adult.
If your child is around the age of seven or eight and showing signs that suggest they may benefit from early orthodontic care, please contact us to schedule an appointment and discus the next steps towards caring for your child's dental health.