CHILDREN, TEENS & EARLY PREVENTION
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 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 will need orthodontic treatment.
Early treatment (also known as Phase-One) typically begins around the ages of seven to nine (Phase-Two will begin around age eleven or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as an underbite.
Why your child may need early treatment
Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all their permanent teeth in around age thirteen)
Difficulty chewing and/or biting
Your child continues sucking their thumb after age five
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 their mouth (crossbites)
Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early prevention 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-sucking habits.
By the age of 13, most of our permanent teeth have erupted into the mouth, and by the end of their teen years the jaw bones will harden and no longer continue to grow. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction and the possibility of oral surgery, and this is often due to the lack of jaw growth potential remaining.
If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been referred by your general dentist to see the orthodontist, please contact our office and schedule an appointment. Our welcoming 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. Often times your child will not need treatment at that young age, however, these short visits can be beneficial for the child to begin to feel calm, and comfortable in regards to future orthodontic treatment.
Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a specialized process combining tooth straightening and physical, facial changes. The purpose of two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional, aesthetic result that will remain stable throughout your life.
PHASE ONE - Your foundation for a lifetime of beautiful smiles
The goal of Phase-One treatment is to help the jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all of the permanent teeth and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. An upper that is growing too much or is too narrow can be recognized at an early age. If children over the age of six are found to have this jaw discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. Also, if children around the age of eight have crowded front teeth, early treatment can avoid the need to extract permanent teeth later.
Planning now can save your smile later
Children benefit tremendously from early phase treatment. Receiving early treatment may prevent the removal of permanent teeth later in life, or the need for surgical procedures to realign the jaws.
Making records to determine your unique treatment
Orthodontic records will be necessary to determine the type of appliances to be used, the duration of treatment time, and the frequency of visits. Records consist of models of the teeth, X-rays, and photographs. During your child’s initial consultation, your doctor will take records to determine if early treatment is necessary.
In this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are left alone as they erupt. Retaining devices may not be recommended if they would interfere with eruption. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement. A successful first phase will have created room for permanent teeth to find an eruption path. Otherwise, they may become impacted or severely displaced.
Monitoring your teeth’s progress
At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.
PHASE TWO - Stay healthy and look attractive
The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. Phase-Two usually involves full upper and lower braces.
At the beginning of the first phase, orthodontic records were made and a diagnosis and treatment plan established. Certain types of appliances were used in the first phase to correct and realign the teeth and jaw. The second phase begins when all permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires braces on all the teeth for an average of 24 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure you retain your beautiful smile.
Orthodontic treatment can improve your personal appearance and self-esteem. On average, one of every four orthodontic patients is an adult. Tooth alignment can be changed at any age if your gums and bone structure are healthy.
Improving the health of your teeth and gums is equally important. Crooked teeth and a bad bite can contribute to gum and bone loss, tooth decay, abnormal wear of the tooth enamel, headaches, and jaw joint (TMJ/TMD) pain.
Adult orthodontic treatment contributes to significant improvements in both professional and personal lives.