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?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age seven. Usually your child's dentist will refer you for an examination,but you are alway welcome to come in for an examination on your own. At this point, Dr Slattery will evaluate your child's need for early orthodontic treatment.
Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two usually begins around age 11 or older). The goal of early treatment is address certain bite isses that are more efficiently addressed with early treatment.
How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:
- Early 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 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 malocculsions can be inherited 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 stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and may involve tooth extraction and/or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, or avoiding the need 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 an appointment. Dr. Slattery will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child's smile.