Early Orthodontic Treatment
Taking your child to the dentist when the first tooth erupts or by the first birthday is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). This is the best way to get your child started on a lifelong journey of oral health. This also ensures that any developing issues with your child’s teeth are caught early.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first visit to the orthodontist as early as seven years of age. At this age, your child will have a mix of permanent and primary teeth. This is also the best age for early intervention if orthodontic treatment is needed.
Orthodontic treatment is completed in phases. Phase one, which is early treatment, typically begins around ages eight or nine. In this phase of treatment, the goal is to correct the growth of the jaw. If there are issues such as an underbite or other bite problems, they are corrected at this point. Phase one treatment also provides for permanent teeth to erupt properly. This minimizes the need for extractions later in the future.
Signs Your Child May Need Early Orthodontic Treatment
Watch for these signs that may indicate a need for phase one treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth (typically children begin losing teeth at five years of age and will have all their permanent teeth by age 13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Breathing through the mouth
- Prolonged thumb sucking after age five
- Problems with speech
- Protruding teeth on the top or bottom arch
- Teeth that do not come together or come together in an unusual way
- Crossbites (when your child’s jaw shifts when opening or closing the mouth)
- Crowding of front teeth at ages seven or eight
If your general dentist or pediatric dentist notices any anomalies with the growth or function of your child’s teeth, he or she may make a recommendation that your child be seen by an orthodontist.
Benefits of Early Intervention
Orthodontic problems can be inherited, caused by habits such as thumb sucking, the result of early or late loss of teeth or from mouth trauma. Early treatment can prevent or minimize the need for orthodontics as an adult. It also can eliminate or reduce the need for extraction of teeth or surgery in the future.
Most children have all their permanent teeth by age 13. As they grow through their teen years, the jawbones harden and stop growing by the time they reach adulthood. When adults need orthodontic treatment, procedures can take longer and may include extraction and the possibility of surgery. Early intervention reduces the need for these procedures.
Contact Schatz Orthodontics if your child needs to see an orthodontist or your child is between the ages of seven or eight and you notice signs that could indicate a need for orthodontic care. We will provide an initial examination, evaluation and discuss with you the best approach to caring for your child’s smile.