Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
What is the difference between early 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?
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 no later than age seven. At this point Dr.Baker will evaluate whether your child will need orthodontic treatment, or if it would be better to wait until they have all of their permanent adult teeth.
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 or tooth eruption problems, such as underbite, or tooth impactions. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future, or sometime even surgery.
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
- Loud breathing or snoring
- 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 six to eight
What causes orthodontic problems, and how will 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 can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, thumb-sucking habits, or most commonly breathing issues.
Children begin getting their first adult teeth around age 6. Most children then lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by their mid teen years, the jaw bones begin to harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, decreasing the chance of extractions or surgery in the future.
If your child is between the ages of six 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 Baker Orthodontics and schedule a complimentary appointment to have Dr.Baker evaluate your child. Our excellent 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 and leading them toward optimal health.