Chances are when you think about braces, you think about teenagers. But you may not know that your child should see an orthodontist for the first time well before they enter their teen – or even pre-teen – years.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommend that each child sees an orthodontist by the age of 7. We know that may sound super early to some parents, so let’s take a look at why. Not every child will need treatment at age seven, but an early assessment of your child’s mouth can help Dr. Durham understand your child’s unique orthodontic needs.
During this exam, Dr. Durham will look at the alignment of your child’s jaw and dental development. By assessing the way that permanent teeth are starting to come in, he will be able to predict any potential issues that may arise in the future. And in many cases, early appointments can help to correct problems before they occur. Which means your child can potentially avoid longer treatment times or invasive procedures down the road. (And you can avoid the cost of more advanced treatment!) Additionally, bite and alignment issues affect not just your child’s self-esteem, but also their health and comfort.
Does this mean my child will have braces right away?
Not every child will need treatment before all of their permanent teeth have come in. However, there are some issues that could require immediate attention. Speech problems, difficulty chewing, or popping in the jaw are a few concerns that could result in early treatment (possibly even before age 7 depending on the severity). Thumb sucking and teeth grinding are two habits that, if left unaddressed, can have long term implications for oral health. The goal of early orthodontic evaluations is to assess some of these habits, concerns, and overall oral hygiene.
Dr. Durham will determine the optimal time for treatment to address your child’s specific needs. That may be later during teen years, or earlier to make room for permanent teeth and alleviate crowding, reducing the need for treatment later. Early treatment is often part of a treatment plan called Phased Treatment (Or two phase treatment).
What is Phased Treatment?
Phased treatment is exactly as it sounds. Treatment that is accomplished in phased. The first phase addresses the issues of immediate concern. This is followed by a resting phase, where growth and permanent teeth continue to develop naturally. Finally, a finishing phase that addresses any residual alignment issues and results in a beautiful, healthy smile.
Not every child needs phased treatment, but early orthodontic evaluations allow us to evaluate the needs and partner with you to find the treatment that will best serve your needs both orally and financially.