Benefits of Early Orthodontics
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s an important truth – especially when it comes to your child’s health. Many children will eventually need corrective dental work, but when? Orthodontic treatment implemented at a young age is not only effective, but it can also eliminate the need for more extensive orthodontic treatment at a later age. With proper treatment planning, a child who undergoes early orthodontics may enjoy:
- Better self-confidence
- Improved tooth and jaw alignment
- Less crowding
- Optimal tooth and bite function
- Teeth and jaws that are more responsive to future orthodontic treatment
- Stable results that last a lifetime
Understanding Interceptive Orthodontics
In decades past, braces were reserved for older children and teenagers who had crowding and other orthodontic problems that occurred during and after adolescence. The treatment was remedial and designed to correct problems after they occurred. Today, orthodontic treatment has evolved to become more proactive in nature. Early orthodontic intervention – sometimes referred to as interceptive orthodontics – facilitates a healthier, straighter smile while the teeth and jaws are still growing and developing.
Interceptive orthodontics can be used in children as young as age 6 or 7. By this age, the jaws have developed enough to identify bite complications and also determine whether the permanent teeth have room to emerge. If an issue is identified, early treatment can more easily correct the problem while the structure of the jaw is still forming and the primary teeth are intact.
What to Expect from Early Orthodontic Treatment
Early orthodontics is generally comprised of two stages of treatment. The first is immediate, as it is designed to prevent a problem from developing or to minimize the severity of an existing problem. The early treatment phase may involve guided growth of the jaw bones and encouraging favorable emergence of permanent teeth. It may also include correction of harmful oral habits, such as thumb-sucking. During the second phase, the permanent teeth are fully erupted and more easily moved into their final positions using traditional braces.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all children eligible for early orthodontic intervention?
Although early orthodontic treatment can be used to mitigate the effects of many different problems, it is not applicable in all cases. Only an orthodontist can determine if two-phase treatment is right for your child. We recommend that all children have an initial orthodontic consultation no later than age 7.
What types of conditions may be a cause for interceptive orthodontics?
Your child may be a candidate for early orthodontics if he or she has teeth crowding or spacing issues. Interceptive treatment may also be right for children who have a malocclusion or missing teeth. There are various orthodontic appliances used to address these complications at an early stage, including palatal expanders and thumb/finger appliances.