Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment? 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 is also called "phase one" treatment. The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as an underbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, which could decrease the complexity of the patient's case 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 should have all their permanent teeth in around age 13)
- 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 at all
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes their mouth (crossbite)
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
- Asymmetrical loss of baby teeth or eruption of permanent teeth
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.
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, please contact our practice to schedule an appointment with Dr. Parker and Dr. Moore. Our 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.