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Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment, and why might my child need early treatment? How will early treatment benefit my child in the long run?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child be seen by an orthodontist by age seven. Dr. Gorczyca will exam your child, evaluate jaw development and tooth eruption and determine whether whether early orthodontic treatment could prevent future bite problems.
Early orthodontic treatment (known as Phase 1) can begin before age 7 if there is a severe functional shift (jaw slide) when the baby teeth are all present. Usually Phase 1 treatment begins as early as age 7 once the six year molars have come into the mouth.
Only 15% of all age 7 children are in severe need of Phase 1 orthodontic treatment which would produce an improved lifetime orthodontic result. It is important to find out if your child is in this category.
Should you complete Phase 1 orthodontic treatment, Phase 2 orthodontic treatment may be needed at age 12. this is due to the fact that 16 additional permanent teeth come during the rest period between Phase 1 and Phase 2 treatment. Phase 1 Phase 2 treatments are like doing half now, half later. Often, this plan can produce a superior result.
The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite, crossbite, extreme overjet, or severe lack of space for teeth to come in properly. Early treatment makes room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions 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 baby teeth around age five, and will have all of his or her permanent teeth by age 13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb sucking after age seven
- Speech impediments
- Protruding teeth (lips cannot close over teeth)
- Teeth that don't come together
- Shifting of the jaw (crossbites)
- Crowded front teeth
What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early prevention benefit my child?
Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking of other oral habits.
Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and more often involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, reducing the need of tooth extraction or oral surgery in the future.
If your child is seven and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or has been told by your family dentist that they need orthodontic treatment, please contact Gorczyca Orthodontics and schedule a complimentary orthodontic examination. Our outstanding orthodontic team will provide your child with an initial exam, answer all of your questions, and discuss with your best choice for achieving a healthy, functional, and beautiful smile.