What Makes Early Orthodontic Treatment Necessary?

Not every child needs early orthodontic treatment, but there are times when it is necessary to ensure permanent teeth come through properly. Early orthodontic treatment can reduce the risk of concerns such as crowded teeth, crooked teeth and gaps. Early orthodontic treatment can begin as early as seven years of age.

Reviewing the importance of early orthodontic treatment

Many parents understand the importance of orthodontic treatment (phase II) for children to ensure they do not have any cosmetic or oral health concerns due to the alignment of there smile, but early orthodontic treatment (phase I) can also be important. The following is an overview of early orthodontic treatment and when it might be necessary.

Early orthodontic treatment defined

Early orthodontic treatment, also called phase I of orthodontic treatment, is designed to help young children who still have some or all of their primary teeth, which may prevent improper growth and alignment of permanent teeth. There are different types of options available in early orthodontic treatment, depending on the specific issue the child has. The three most common types of treatment include wearing a palatal expander, partial braces and a retainer. The primary goal is often to address skeletal issues with the jaw and alignment before or soon after permanent teeth emerge.

When to consider early orthodontic treatment

Early orthodontic treatment is a good idea if the general dentist or orthodontist notices an issue with the child’s jaw or teeth alignment after permanent teeth come through. Several concerns that they might check for include:

Malocclusion
Bite complications
Narrow jaw
Protruding teeth

Early orthodontic treatment is in a way a head start for phase II orthodontics. It reduces the need for treatments such as metal braces or clear aligners at a later age.

Children who may not need early orthodontic treatment

It is important to note that not every child requires early orthodontic treatment. Children who do not have any noticeable concerns with the alignment of their jaw or teeth should likely wait until phase II orthodontics for treatment. The best way to determine if a child can benefit from early orthodontic treatment is to consider visiting with an orthodontist for a consultation, during which they can order dental X-rays and conduct an oral examination to see how the permanent teeth and the jaw are developing.

What age should my child visit an orthodontist?

Many orthodontists recommend having children come in for a checkup visit as early as six or seven years of age. As mentioned, many do not need treatment until later, but an early visit can provide the orthodontist and the parent with a better idea of what treatment may be needed at a later age and what can be done during phase I to reduce the need for treatment later.

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