In the past, orthodontics was routinely an early teen event that began once all of the baby teeth were gone and permanent teeth were in. Recent advances in the understanding of a child development as well as modern materials have re-evaluated the time for orthodontic treatment to an earlier age. It is now recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists that every child should receive an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. But Why?
Common Orthodontic Problems Found At Age 7
1. Buck Teeth. Do the upper front teeth stick way out of line?
2. Deep Bite. Do the upper teeth cover the lower teeth?
3. Underbite. Do the upper teeth fit inside the arch of the lower teeth?
4. Open Bite. Do only the back teeth touch when biting down?
5. Crowded or overlapped teeth. Do the teeth have too much or too little space in certain areas?
6. Misaligned front teeth. Do the spaces between the upper two front teeth and lower two front teeth not line up?
7. Crossbite. Do the lower teeth fit properly inside the upper teeth?
8 .Missing teeth. If there are baby teeth that never developed, there will not be a permanent tooth to follow. Jaw x-rays may also find that certain permanent teeth are not presently formed or are unable to come down on their own.
9. Extra teeth. When there are double teeth, extra teeth or malformed teeth.
Generally, orthodontic treatment does not begin at age 7 but it is good to get a head start to avoid any complications down the road. However, early orthodontic treatment may be necessary before age 7 if the following appear:
-Proper Chewing Is Difficult
-Abnormal bite development
-Clicking or popping in the jaw
-Permanent teeth that are erutping into the mouth crowded or overlapped
-A thumb sucking problem
-A teeth grinding problem
-Issues biting cheeks or biting into the roof of the mouth
Benefits Of Early Orthodontic Treatment
Early orthodontic evaluation provides both timely diagnosis of problems and increased opportunity for more effective treatment. Early intervention gives the ability to guide growth and development, preventing more serious issues later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.
Early orthodontic treatment is also referred to as interceptive treatment or Phase I treatment. Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment include the following:
-Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
-Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
-Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
-Preserving space for teeth that are coming in
-Reducing the need for tooth removal
-Reducing Phase II treatment time with braces
Phase II orthodontic treatment begins when all of the permanent teeth erupt and usually involves a full set of braces and not just a localized treatment plan.
While not every child will need early orthodontic treatment, it is best to know in advance what the options will be going forward. It is important to remember, orthodontics is not strictly a cosmetic endeavor, bite alignment is the ultimate goal. The issues presented above can all be corrected fairly easily if done in a phased approach. However, allowing this early intervention time to pass can complicate treatment requiring more extreme measures (i.e. teeth removal or surgery) to fulfill the same goal.