When you think of braces, rubber bands, and retainers, you most likely envision a pre-teen or teenager. However, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child have their first orthodontic visit by the age of seven. And I agree!
It has long been the belief that a child must lose his or her baby teeth before starting orthodontic treatment. Most people don’t understand why a young child under ten years of age would ever need braces. But by this age, there has been sufficient jaw development and enough permanent teeth have erupted for an orthodontist to proactively identify any developing problems.
Early orthodontic treatment, or Phase 1 Treatment, is important simply because some problems are easier to correct at an earlier age (I even dedicated a chapter in my book about it)! Early screening can reduce the complexity of future treatment. Additionally, there are certain orthodontic problems that cannot be resolved past a certain age without surgery. At Castilla Orthodontics, early treatment patients make up roughly 10 percent of my practice, and most children receive comprehensive orthodontic treatment at a later age.
Early or Phase 1 Treatment can aid a plethora of oral issues—severe crowding, discrepancies in the development of the jaws, dental crossbites, severe protrusion, and extra or missing teeth. If caught early enough in the orthodontic evaluation, later treatment will be less complex. These issues can also impact the confidence of your child. School-aged children are relentless and bullying others about their teeth is sadly a common occurrence I have seen with my patients. After early treatment, it is so rewarding to see the confidence portrayed in the young boy or girl once their teeth have been aligned.
Given this information, you might be wondering what to expect when you take your child for their initial orthodontic consultation—here are several things your orthodontist will evaluate:
- Are the jaws developing normally?
- Is there sufficient room for permanent teeth to grow in on their own?
- Are the teeth growing in correctly?
- Are there any cross-bites?
- Are there any extra or missing teeth?
After the initial consultation, your orthodontist will recommend one of three options: your child has an orthodontic problem that would greatly benefit from early or Phase 1 Treatment; your child will benefit from future orthodontic treatment, but now is not the ideal time; or your child may not need any orthodontic treatment at all.
If your young child has not received his or her orthodontic evaluation, I recommend scheduling a consultation as soon as possible. It can make all the difference in preventing unnecessary treatment and giving your child the smile of their life. To set up an initial consultation at Castilla Orthodontics, please give us a call at 503-917-3925 or visit our practice website.