Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
There are a few 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 7. During your first visit Dr. Johnson will evaluate your child and determine if and when they might need orthodontic treatment.
Early treatment, referred to as Phase One, typically begins around age 8 or 9. Phase Two is usually followed shortly afterwards around age 11 or older. The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite relationships, such as underbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions or surgery in the future.
How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth - your child should typically start losing teeth around age 5, and should have all permanent teeth around age 13
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Your child continues sucking his/her thumb after age 5
- Speech impediments
- Protruding teeth - the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other
- Teeth that don't come together in a normal manner
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth
- Crowded/overlapping front teeth
What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early treatment benefit my child?
Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bite relationships can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, and/or thumb-sucking habits.
Most children lose all of their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.
If your child is between the ages of 7 and 8 and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact us to schedule an appointment at 317-272-4755. Dr. Johnson will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child's smile.