When most parents think about taking their children to the orthodontist, they probably imagine doing so when their children are pre-teens getting braces. But did you know that children as young as seven years old can benefit from an orthodontic check-up?
As a parent, you may already be taking important steps to protect your child’s oral health. You’re teaching your child good oral health habits, including regular brushing and how to floss correctly. You’re taking your child to the dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning. So why is a visit to the orthodontist so important?
While a pediatric dentist is trained to identify potential bite problems, a pediatric dentist will need to refer your child to an orthodontist for further care. Even if your child’s dentist has not identified any early bite issues, it is still a good idea to have an official orthodontic checkup.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child receive a check-up from an orthodontist no later than the age of seven. Pediatric orthodontists are trained to identify subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth, even when your child’s baby teeth are still present. Don’t assume that because your child’s teeth and jaw look “fine” that they actually are okay. In fact, even if your child’s teeth appear to be straight, there could still be a problem that only the orthodontist is able to detect. The earlier this problem is identified, the more treatment options will be available to minimize the issue.
What is “Phase 1” orthodontic treatment?
Interceptive orthodontic treatment, also known as “Phase I”, addresses bite and spacing problems before more serious issues occur. The goal of Phase I care is to “intercept” these problems as early as possible, giving your child the best chance for proper oral development.
During your child’s orthodontic screening, a pediatric orthodontist will check your child’s oral development for common bite and teeth conditions. Identifying these problems as early as possible allows the orthodontist to time treatment to take advantage of your child’s natural growth and development. Proactively treating problems before they become more serious offers two key benefits. Our orthodontist can reduce the risk for future overcrowding and bite problems. Doing so then minimizes the need for more aggressive and invasive treatment later in the life. For example, by guiding the growth of jaw bones we can help support your child’s teeth so these teeth come in straight and the jaw grows in the correct alignment. This can reduce the need for braces in the future.
What does early orthodontic care treat?
Early orthodontic treatment for children is designed to address the following oral health concerns:
- Enable correct biting and chewing
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Guide permanent teeth into better positions
- Guide the growth of the jaw bones
- Lower the risk of damage or breakage to protruded front teeth
- Improve appearance by improving the way the lips meet
Early care may be beneficial for children with open bites, deep bites, cross bites, overjets, crowded teeth, and missing teeth. For example, inserting spacers or using a temporary retainer can help guide jaw growth and ensure adequate space for all of your child’s teeth. Depending on your child’s needs, proactive intervention could make the difference between crowded or crooked teeth and a straight smile.
Benefits of early orthodontic care for children under 7
Early orthodontic treatment will give your child the best opportunity for a healthy smile. Even better, early care may help to reduce the need for braces or minimize the length and expense of future treatment.
To learn more about the benefits of early orthodontic care, download this free eBook from Docbraces – A Parent’s Guide to the Benefits of Braces: How early treatment can improve your child’s confidence, support development and improve health for a lifetime