Every child needs good oral hygiene. But not all children need orthodontic treatments early. When a young child faces crowded teeth, crooked teeth, or gaps, it might be time to see an orthodontist. How old should your child be when seeing an orthodontist? Most orthodontists recommend starting these visits at six or seven.
What is the Importance of Early Orthodontic Treatment?
When you hear “orthodontic treatment,” you generally think of braces. That is true. But braces and aligners are considered Phase II of treatment. Early orthodontic treatment, or Phase I, addresses concerns before braces or aligners are needed. But what does Phase I entail?
Phase I of treatment is used to help children who have most of their primary teeth. Sometimes, the growth of permanent teeth can be obstructed by primary teeth. Depending on your child’s issue, different options exist to correct these issues. Palatal expanders, partial braces, and retainers are commonly used in Phase I of treatment. This phase addresses possible skeletal issues in the jaw or with alignment before permanent teeth grow.
If your dentist notices an issue with your child’s jaw or alignment after permanent teeth grow, they might suggest early orthodontic treatment. What are the concerns your orthodontist might have? Here are some of those concerns:
- Malocclusion – Malocclusion happens when your child’s teeth are misaligned. Orthodontists suggest that when a child sucks their thumb, that habit can cause this condition.
- Bite complications – These complications happen when the teeth don’t meet correctly or at all when the mouth is closed.
- Narrow jaw – This is a condition where the upper jaw is narrower than the lower jaw. A narrow jaw can lead to pain in the muscles of the jaw.
- Protruding teeth – Often referred to as “buckteeth,” this is more than a skeletal concern.
Treating these conditions earlier can pave the way for later orthodontic treatments. Thinks of phase I as the gateway to phase II. With the correct early treatments, your child may not need metal braces or clear aligners later.
Not all children need early orthodontic treatment. If your child doesn’t have a pronounced concern with the alignment of their jaw, generally wait until phase II. Your child may not need orthodontic treatments at all. X-rays and dental exams are the best way to ensure whether your child needs any orthodontic treatment. If your child’s teeth are misaligned, visiting the orthodontist is in order.
As stated before, six or seven is the best time to start visiting an orthodontist. Many children don’t need treatment that early, but a visit can’t hurt. Visiting your orthodontist can provide peace of mind and a treatment plan.
Scheduling a Visit With Your Dentist
If you think your child needs orthodontic treatment, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist. The longer your wait, the more vital the visit becomes. Your dentist can refer you to a pediatric orthodontist if you still need to find one. The orthodontist can perform the necessary examinations to tell you if your child needs early orthodontic treatment. If they aren’t eligible, your orthodontist can tell you when they might need them.