Early Interceptive 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 interceptive 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 may need orthodontic treatment at this stage or in the future.
Early treatment (also known as Phase One Interceptive Treatment) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two would likely begin around age 12 or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as an underbite or a large overbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions 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 12-13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Mouth breathing/Snoring
- Your child continues sucking his or her thumb or fingers after age five
- Speech issues and difficulties
- Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
- Teeth that don't come together when biting down
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
- Crowded front teeth
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, or thumb and/or finger sucking habits can contribute to significant bite and tooth alignment issues.
Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 12-13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will mature and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults can often take more time and may involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can sometimes help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, reducing the chance of extraction or surgery in the future.
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 and schedule a complimentary initial appointment. 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.
Although most patient's do not require early interceptive orthodontic care, when needed it can be extremely effective in producing an improved result for patients with significant orthodontic problems. Orthodontists are trained to know when and how to treat patients with orthodontic problems. They are specialists in this area and understand how facial growth and development play an important role in a childs development of teeth, jaws and bite relationships.