Most people who get braces do so because they’re not 100% happy with their smile, whether it’s crooked teeth, a gap, or a bad bite that’s bothering them. Whatever the issue, it’s something they see (and don’t like) every time they look in the mirror.
But there are many people who could benefit from orthodontics who don’t even know it! The issue may not be staring back at them from the mirror, but it’s there, and a visit to the orthodontist could uncover what’s really going on in the mouth.
This situation occurs most often in children. Let’s look at how and why some children could benefit from braces without even knowing it.
A 10-Year-Old with Braces? Why 10 is Not Too Young
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children have their first orthodontist visit by the time they’re seven years old. I know this sounds young to many people, but I agree with the AAO’s recommendation.
That’s because at this age, a child has most of their baby teeth left but also has some permanent teeth. Their jaws have developed enough to see what’s going on, yet because they’re still growing, any necessary changes affecting the jaw joint can be made with relative ease at this point.
If parents choose to wait and bring their children in as teens, they could find themselves in a situation where treatment to fix an issue is more difficult and more lengthy than if the problem had been corrected at an earlier age. Some orthodontic problems can’t be resolved at all past a certain age without surgery. While these cases aren’t overly common, they do occur, and early intervention would have been an easier, more effective option.
Phase 1 Treatment
Here are some things I evaluate in younger patients to see if they’re a good candidate for what’s called Phase 1 treatment:
- Are the jaws developing normally?
- Is there sufficient room for the permanent teeth to grow in on their own?
- Are the teeth growing in correctly?
- Are there any crossbites?
- Are there any extra or missing teeth?
I’m able to see what’s going on beneath the surface in a patient’s mouth using advanced imaging and other techniques. This is how I’m able to identify potential problems to be fixed, even if the patient is happy with the smile they see in the mirror. They could benefit from orthodontic treatment and not even realize it!
Knowledge is Power
Some parents may be reluctant to bring their child in so young because they assume that the orthodontist will tell them their child needs treatment. However, this is not the case. The majority of children this age don’t need early intervention. For instance, I’d say that children undergoing early treatment make up only about 10% of my practice. But for the ones that do, early intervention can make a big difference in the way their smiles develop.
If you’re a parent in the Salem, OR area, call us at 503-399-0721 or visit our website to schedule a free consultation for your child today!