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Early Orthodontic Treatment

Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age seven. At this point the orthodontist will evaluate  your child's bite, identify any tooth or jaw problems, and determine if they will need early orthodontic treatment.

If needed, early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine. The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as cross bite and underbite. Early treatment can also help make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future.

How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth 
  • Cross bites
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Persistent finger or thumb sucking habits
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (upper or lower teeth sticking out)
  • Teeth that don't come together when biting 
  • Shifting of the jaw when opening or closing the mouth
  • Crowded front teeth 

What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early treatment benefit my child?

Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.

Often times, a short early treatment strategy can prevent problems from become much more complex and difficult to treat later on. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help reduce the amount of treatment needed as a teen or adult, and can reduce the chance that extractions of permanent teeth and/or surgery is needed.

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child's smile.