Some children need help to ensure that their permanent teeth grow correctly. Not all children need this help, but treating orthodontic concerns early on can reduce the risk of crowded teeth, crooked teeth, and gaps. This kind of treatment can begin as early as seven years old. Addressing these concerns earlier can help your child grow up to be confident in their smile.
Early Orthodontic Treatment and Why It’s Important
Most parents know that orthodontic procedures can reduce oral health issues due to the alignment of their child’s teeth. But starting these treatments earlier is also essential. Treating misaligned teeth isn’t just a cosmetic issue. It also helps prevent cavities and tooth decay. But what are these treatments, and when would they be necessary?
Early orthodontic treatment, or Phase I, is meant to help children with primary teeth. These treatments can help prevent your child’s teeth from growing incorrectly or misaligned. Many options are available in Phase I, and it all depends on your child’s issue. Palatal expanders, partial braces, and retainers are the most common types of treatment in this phase. This phase aims to address possible skeletal issues in the jaw and correct the alignment of permanent teeth before they emerge.
Phase I of orthodontic treatment is recommended if your dentist or orthodontist notices issues with your child’s jaw or tooth alignment after their permanent teeth start to grow. A few of these concerns are:
- Malocclusion is when a child’s teeth are misaligned when their mouth is closed.
- Bite complications – These complications can cause painful strain on the jaw muscles.
- A narrow jaw is when a child’s upper jaw is narrower than their lower jaw.
- Protruding teeth – Also known as “buck teeth,” this condition combines an overbite and upper incisors that protrude forward.
Treating these potential concerns early in your child’s life is an excellent way to reduce the need for braces or aligners at a later age for your child.
Not every child needs early orthodontic treatment. Some might not have noticeable concerns with their teeth or jaw alignment and might have to wait until later. These children are generally introduced to Phase II of orthodontic treatment. To ensure your child needs early treatment, visit your dentist or orthodontist for a consultation. They can order X-rays and perform exams to determine if your child needs early treatment.
When Should I Start Treating my Child?
The general age for your child’s first orthodontic appointment should be six or seven years old. Just because your child might not need early treatment doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask. These early visits to the orthodontist can provide an idea of what treatment might be needed if any at all. Your orthodontist is the only person who can tell you, for sure, if your child needs Phase I treatments or Phase II. However, many parents choose to err on the side of caution and bring their children in as early as possible. If you’ve decided that you want to bring your child to an orthodontist because you’ve noticed possible issues, it might be a good idea to visit your orthodontist and consult with them.