While braces are sometimes thought of as an aesthetic treatment to achieve a big, pearly white smile, they are often needed for than just that. Correcting bite patterns and teeth growing in incorrectly early is frequently considered to be more beneficial than waiting to correct these problems until all of the adult teeth have grown in.
How early is treatment effective?
There are two phases of orthodontics: Phase One and Phase Two. Phase One is considered “early” treatment, and occurs in children’s orthodontic treatment starting from ages 7 to 10. Phase Two is treatment in children around age 11 and older. Depending on the patient, Phase One treatment can start even before the “baby” teeth are lost.
How can I tell if my child needs early orthodontic treatment?
There are numerous reasons to start treatment early, including:
- Mouth breathing
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Shifting of the jaw when opening or closing the mouth
- Teeth that do not fit together properly (or at all)
When is early treatment beneficial?
It is commonly believed by orthodontists that children should have an orthodontic screening no later than the age of 7. This screening will determine bite pattern problems and if the child is on track for their permanent teeth erupting. Screenings also determine if orthodontic treatment is necessary. Since the child is still growing, early treatment can lower their chances of having more severe problems or instances of tooth extractions later on.
Early treatment and growing children
Early treatment can provide many benefits in the growth process as well. The growth of the jaws is able to be guided, ensuring that they grow into a proper bite. In addition to jaw growth being guided, the new permanent teeth that erupt during treatment can also be monitored and guided as necessary to grow into the right positions. Since jaw and tooth growth is then regulated, the treatment length may also be shortened. A healthy smile boosts self-confidence, and starting early sometimes even means that the child will not have to go into appearance-obsessed middle or high school wearing braces.
JJ Johnson, DDS, PC and his team in St. Louis, MO are practiced in the art of orthodontics. They provide knowledgeable, professional care for all of their patients, and work with parents and patients alike to achieve bright and healthy smiles. Call to schedule an orthodontic screening for your child today!