Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
When should my child first see the orthodontist? What is the difference between early (Phase One) 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?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist for an evaluation at age seven. At this point, our orthodontists can determine if any early intervention might be needed. If no intervention is needed, then children enter into our observation program and we monitor their growth and development as they get older with visits every 6-12 months.
The best part? This observation program is entirely complimentary and FREE of charge.
Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older) and typically last anywhere from 12-18 months. The goal of early orthodontic treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as an underbite and crossbite before they get any worse.
Early treatment can consist of Invisalign First ®, braces, or an appliance such as an expander, also referred to as a spacer. Early treatment also helps to make room for the permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions or impactions in the future.
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 orthodontic 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 of their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Seeing an orthodontist early and receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent complications during Phase II orthodontics, decreasing the chance of extractions or surgery in the future.
If your child is between the ages of seven and nine and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your dentist to visit the orthodontist, feel free to schedule a Free Consultation. When you come in for your visit we will take a set of photos and diagnostic x-rays and do a 3D scan of your child's teeth. Then Dr. Aran or Dr. Karim will perform an oral exam, and discuss with you their findings and if any treatment is indicated.