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.
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 is early treatment?
Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine. The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as crossbites. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future. Early treatment is followed by a brief resting period during which retainers are worn to hold the current position of the teeth. Once the majority of permanent teeth have erupted, often a second phase of orthodontic treatment is performed (around age 12).
How will early treatment benefit my child?
The main goal of early treatment is to prevent more complex issues in the future such as jaw asymmetry or severe crowding necessitating extractions. Putting off treatment can result in a need for more invasive treatment later in life that may not completely fix your child’s smile.
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. 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.