Most orthodontic treatments start in a person’s teen years when all permanent teeth have come in and the results are more predictable. However, some young children show a need early on.
When dentists and orthodontists make this evaluation, it doesn’t necessarily mean orthodontics are needed right away. However, monitoring growth patterns can indicate the best opportunity to start treatment to get the best results.
The Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child has an initial screening from the ages six to eight when first permanent molars have erupted.
But what are the signs that my child should seek attention earlier? And who can help me make that decision?
What Causes Orthodontic Problems
For some cases of misaligned teeth, we can blame genetics or inherited orthodontic issues such as crowded teeth, excessive spacing, bad bites, or protruding teeth. Other causes may be due to injury, early or late loss of baby teeth, or habits like thumb sucking.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of causes, they are some of the most prominent ones.
When Does a Child Need Early Intervention?
Some cases are easy to diagnose and some developmental issues can correct themselves as children grow into their preteen years. It is important to have a professional determine if your child’s oral development is on track or if they need intervention. Some of the issues a dentist may evaluate include:
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Thumb sucking after age five
- Mouth breathing
- Speech impediments
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Protruding teeth
- Shifting of the jaw when opening or closing (cross-bite)
- Crowded front teeth
Early Orthodontic Treatments
The goal of early treatment is to help your child’s jaw to develop correctly, so there is plenty of room for permanent teeth.
Partial braces, palatal expansion, space maintainers, or retainers can all be used to create more space and improve bone growth. These early intervention methods can help eliminate the need for corrective surgery later on and make regular orthodontic procedures shorter and more effective.
Treatments in this stage typically only last about 10-14 months as the mouth continues to grow and shift frequently. Nevertheless, once it is complete, your child will be fitted with a retainer to keep everything in place until it is time to re-evaluate the growth – roughly around the age of 11 or older, after all the permanent teeth have erupted.
Standard Orthodontic Treatments
Once most of your child’s permanent teeth have erupted (around age 11 or older), it is suggested to have your dentist or orthodontist check-in on how the jaw has adapted to previous interventions.
If there are still issues when the 12-year-old molars start to erupt, your child may need further work. However, approximately 70% of early treatment patients will not require extra treatment.
Nevertheless, if there is a need for braces or aligners, your orthodontist can prescribe a treatment plan that can span 18-24 months. After this treatment is complete, a retainer will still need to be worn every night to prevent teeth from moving back to their original position.
Treehouse Orthodontic Care
Orthodontics, like most other dental and medical services, are best used as a preventive measure. Beginning orthodontic treatment early can prevent the development of problems for your child in later years and can stave off costly restorative and reconstructive procedures.
Early treatment may not apply to all orthodontic problems, but it can help in certain cases. With braces having dramatically improved over the past couple of decades, your children can expect them to be more comfortable and more effective than what you might remember as a kid.
With proper planning, a child who has early orthodontics may enjoy better self-confidence, optimal tooth and bite function, improved tooth and jaw alignment, and more stable results.
If your unsure if your child needs early orthodontic work, don’t hesitate to call Treehouse Dental Care for all your services. With orthodontics done in-house, your child’s entire dental care can be handled with familiar and friendly faces.