Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children

How does early orthodontic treatment differ from regular orthodontic treatment, and why may 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 by age seven. That's because, by age seven, the orthodontist can properly evaluate whether your child is a candidate for treatment. 

Early treatment (also called Phase One) can begin around age eight or nine (Phase Two typically begins around age 11 or older.) The goal of early treatment is to prevent more complex orthodontic challenges from developing by correcting the growth of the jaw and malocclusion or bite problems. Early treatment also ensures that permanent teeth have enough space to come in properly, lowering the probability of extractions in the future.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR CHILD MIGHT 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)
  • Chewing and biting challenges
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Thumb sucking continues after age five
  • Speaking challenges 
  • Protruding teeth (the top and bottom teeth push away from each other)
  • Misalignment of teeth
  • Crossbiting or shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth
  • Crowding of the front teeth by age seven or eight

WHAT CAUSES ORTHODONTIC PROBLEMS, AND WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EARLY ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT FOR MY CHILD?

There are many causes of orthodontic problems. Most problems are either inherited from the family, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking. 

All baby teeth are typically lost by the time your child reaches 13. Jaw bones will fully develop and stop growing by the end of their teen years. Adults often have more complexities during orthodontic procedures because their muscles and bones are fully developed and can involve extractions or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment can prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult and leave little to no chance of teeth extraction or surgery in the future.

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and you think they may be in need of orthodontic care, or if you have been referred by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, take advantage of scheduling your complimentary first visit. You will have a chance to meet Dr. Davis, and our team will provide your child with an initial exam, including diagnostic records (X-rays and photos) and discuss with the best steps to take toward caring for your child's smile.

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