Early Treatment Benefits
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first see an orthodontist at seven
years of age.
We highly recommend that you bring your child into the office by this age for an initial complimentary consultation. Often, we’ll place your child on an annual or biannual recall at no charge to monitor their growth and dental development. In most cases orthodontic treatment is not started until age 10-14 when all of the permanent teeth are present.
However, we can not stress enough the importance of an early exam which can pick up on some problems best addressed before all the permanent teeth are present. The reason being, your child’s greatest growth normally occurs before all the permanent teeth have developed.
Treatment during this period of maximum growth can be very advantageous for children with crowding, crossbites, overbites, underbites, or other alignment problems.
The benefits of early orthodontic treatment for your child may include the following:
– Reduce or eliminate the need to extract permanent teeth
– Reduce or eliminate the need for jaw surgery
– Lower the risk of injury to protruded front teeth
– Correct harmful oral habits
– Improve the smile/self confidence
– Improve speech development
– Influence growth of the jaws in a positive manner
– Reduce appearance-consciousness during critical developmental years
– Improve the width of the dental arches
– Simplify and shorten treatment time for full braces
– Increase the stability of final treatment results
– Reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
– Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
– Improve lip closure
– Preserve or gain space for erupting permanent teeth
– Reduce potential for damage to jaw joints
Becoming accustomed to an orthodontist, our office and staff can also alleviate anxiety when it comes time to start orthodontic treatment. The patients and parents have a better idea of what to expect for treatment and the parents often have an idea of how payment schedules work and can look into insurance coverage if that is an option.
Examples of early treatment benefits:
Overbite – A common problem in young patients is an ‘overbite’ with upper teeth that stick out, commonly known as ‘buck teeth.’ This occurs when the development of the lower jaw is deficient, preventing the upper and lower front teeth from touching.
Traditional treatment of this problem has involved the use of headgear to restrain the growth of the upper jaw as the lower jaw continues to grow to meet with the growing lower jaw.
Prevention of trauma associated with protruding upper teeth – The X-ray (right) shows a crown of a tooth which was broken restored by the dentist. Orthodontic treatment at a young age would have corrected this patient’s protruding upper teeth and prevented the childhood trauma to the tooth. Fractured teeth often become permanently discolored and may require a root canal. In the worse cases, they have to be extracted.
Cross bite with a narrow upper jaw – Remarkable results can be achieved with expansion appliances in young patients during their period of maximum growth. This patient had an extremely narrow upper arch with severe crowding. An expansion appliance was used at an early age to increase the width of the upper jaw, which prevented the need for extractions. This results in a beautiful broad smile.
If this patient had not been seen until adulthood, she would have required either surgery and/or extractions to correct her severely narrow upper arch.