There is no exact age that children must be in order to begin orthodontic treatment. Every child differs in their dental development and in their orthodontic needs. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends evaluating children at age 7 to advise if orthodontic treatment is necessary and if it is the best time to begin treatment (read more). Most children do not need early braces or Phase I Orthodontic Treatment. However, there are some problems that should be diagnosed and treated at an early age.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING!WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO BEGIN ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT?This is a question that is often asked of me by parents, especially when they see other young children in braces. My answer is based on my own training and experience, in addition to referencing the most current orthodontic research available. Many children (ages 6-10) do not require early, or Phase I, orthodontic treatment and their current conditions can be addressed at a later time when all or most of the permanent teeth are present.
THERE ARE NUMEROUS ADVANTAGES TO DELAYING TREATMENT UNTIL ALL OR MOST OF THE PERMANENT TEETH ARE PRESENT, OR TEENAGE YEARS:
Decreased time in braces and fewer appointments.Less time absent from school or work. Less opportunity for broken braces.Less chance of enamel decalcification and root shortening.Bone growth is occurring more rapidly during the adolescent years which increasing effectiveness at response to braces.Regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches and smile.Understanding and cooperation are enhanced when a child is more mature.Completing treatment in one phase, or one set of braces, is less costly than a prolonged two-phase treatment.
THE OPTIMAL TIME TO REALIZE THESE BENEFITS WILL VARY WITH EACH INDIVIDUAL CHILD, BUT FOR MOST CHILDREN IT IS USUALLY BETWEEN THE AGES OF 11, 12, AND 13.When comprehensive orthodontic treatment starts in this window, most cases in our office finish in 12 - 24 months or less than 2 years. This is extraordinary compared to the stories we hear of 3, 4, and 5 years total in braces.
INTERCEPTIVE ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT FOR CHILDREN
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN YOUR CHILDRENHere are a few things parents can look for that may indicate a need for orthodontic treatment:
Early or late loss of baby teeth.Crossbites due to narrowing of the upper jaw that often cause the lower jaw to shift.Abnormal tongue, swallowing, or finger habits.Severe crowding causing damage to teeth, bones, or gums.Teeth that are at risk to damage or trauma due to an incorrect position.Space maintenance due to early loss of baby teeth or tooth impactions.Jaws that appear mislaigned (underbite or overbite) or deviate to one side.Social/Phycological reasons.PHASE I ORTHODONTICSEarly child orthodontic treatment, phase I orthodontics, allows Dr. Christensen to accomplish the following:
Facilitate and encourage proper permanent tooth development.Redirect jaw growth to achieve a balanced skeletal relationship.Regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches and smile.Create more space for crowded teeth.Preserve or restore gum tissue health.Eliminate harmful bite relationships that can cause tooth damage.Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions.