Orthodontists once believed that children should not receive braces or orthodontic treatment until all of their permanent teeth came in, allowing for proper growth of their facial and jawbones before undergoing further changes. However, as orthodontics has advanced over the years, the recommendations for early intervention have increased. While early orthodontic intervention is certainly not necessary for everyone, it offers the potential to treat current issues and prevent more serious problems later in life.
At Hoskinson Orthodontics, we believe in keeping our patients informed and educated about their treatment options. If you’re wondering if early intervention is right for your child, then it’s important to learn more about what it involves and how it can make a difference.
Phase I of Early Intervention
Put simply, early intervention refers to orthodontic treatment that is performed while baby teeth are still present. While it may vary depending on your child’s development, phase I of early intervention treatment is typically recommended for children between the ages of 7 and 10. This phase focuses on the growth and development patterns of a child’s teeth, which are not all permanently grown yet.
Phase II of Early Intervention
Once a child is past age 10, they most likely have more permanent and developing teeth and would be better candidates for later treatment. Phase II of early intervention is usually implemented at peak growth and development years. This is the time when a child’s teeth are developed and grown enough to receive braces or Invisalign. The teeth are in an efficient movement position, resulting in avoiding unnecessary prolonged treatment.
How to Begin Treatment
If your child is under age 7 and exhibiting an orthodontic problem, it’s important to schedule an early check-up with an orthodontist as soon as possible for them to evaluate your child’s condition and determine if early intervention is necessary. Treating oral conditions as early as possible can ultimately prevent time-consuming and expensive treatment later on in life.
Conditions Treated by Early Intervention
Early intervention can be in your child’s best interest if they have a problem that could become more serious over time if left untreated. By detecting problems early on and guiding the growth of facial and jawbones, adequate space can be made for incoming permanent teeth.
This type of treatment is available for conditions such as:
Crowding occurs when there is not enough room in the mouth for permanent teeth, which can cause them to come in crooked.
Excessively Spaced Teeth
With spaced out teeth, there is more room in the mouth than needed, which can cause gaps to form between permanent teeth.
This occurs when the bottom front teeth cover up the top front teeth.
This typically happens when the jaw shifts to one side, causing upper teeth to close inside lower teeth rather than on the outside.
Extra or Missing Teeth
Extra or missing teeth can cause issues with spacing in the mouth as well as discomfort.
Thumb, Finger, or Pacifier Sucking
Any of these habits can lead to orthodontic problems, causing bones to shift in position and affect teeth and jaw growth.
As a habit over time, mouth breathing can cause an open bite, in which the front teeth do not come together all the way.
Benefits of Early Intervention
The sooner that your child’s oral condition is evaluated and treated, the higher the chances are of improving their jaws, face, and overall development. Early orthodontic intervention can offer a wide variety of benefits and advantages for your child’s future, including some which may not be so obvious.
Early intervention can:
- Lead to early identification of oral problems, ultimately saving your child from potential surgeries and more advanced complications in their future.
- Create more space for incoming permanent teeth and guide them into more favorable positions for a more aligned smile.
- Lower the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Reduce teeth grinding and its uncomfortable symptoms by realigning your child’s jaw placement.
- Improve your child’s appearance and confidence by correcting crooked or misaligned teeth.
- Help with speech difficulties by correcting the alignment of the teeth and jaw.
- Assist with digestion as straight teeth and an aligned jaw can allow your child to more easily chew their food.
The Importance of Preventative Treatment
Your child’s growth and development is key to their future. Early orthodontic intervention offers the opportunity to detect and treat issues before they become more advanced, while also giving your child the chance to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.
At Hoskinson Orthodontics, we can help to determine if early orthodontic intervention is appropriate for your child. For more information about our orthodontic treatments or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today!