Early Orthodontic Treatment

Early Orthodontic Treatment

What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment, and why does 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 by age 7 or at the first sign of an orthodontic problem. At this point, the orthodontist will evaluate whether your child will need orthodontic treatment and determine the best time to begin the treatment.

Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite while the child is still developing. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, reducing the possibility of extractions in the future.

How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:

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 are the causes of orthodontic problems, and how can early 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 are can be genetic or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.

Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13. And by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and cease growth. Therefore, orthodontic procedures for adults typically take more time and are more likely to involve more invasive procedures such as tooth extraction and oral surgery. If your child receives early orthodontic treatment, the need for orthodontic treatment involving more invasive procedures will be greatly reduced.

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight, shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been referred by your general dentist, please contact Sterling Orthodontics to schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and plan the next steps to take care of your child’s beautiful smile.