The Earlier The Better

Benefits Of Early Orthodontic Treatment

Considering orthodontic treatment timing for children can often be confusing for parents. People are typically used to doing things the way they have always been done, and with interceptive or early orthodontic treatment on the rise over the last 15 years, that can often mean a different treatment plan than parents are used to. The days of “wait until they are 12” or “wait until they have all of their permanent teeth” are long gone.

As with most areas of medicine and dentistry, a more conservative and proactive approach to treatment has been accepted and put in place. By going away from the reactive and aggressive treatment strategies of the past and using more proactive and conservative treatment plans, we can, in a large per-centage of cases, prevent the need for permanent tooth extractions and invasive and aggressive surgeries, providing a result that will be more stable and attractive.

The American Association of Orthodontists now recommends that every child see an orthodontist for an initial consultation at the age of seven (this period of orthodontic treatment is commonly known as “phase one”). This is much different than in the past. The reason for this change is that when caught early, numerous problems can be prevented, minimized, or at least better planned for in terms of treatment timing.

– Analyze without risk. An initial consultation is the perfect time to evaluate a child’s teeth and bite without committing to braces. If parents have any questions or concerns, they can express them at this meeting and listen to the orthodontist’s suggested course of action. If the child doesn’t need braces at this point, his or her parents can walk away with peace of mind knowing that everything is developing properly.

– Catch issues early. Serious orthodontic problems can often be corrected or helped if caught early enough. When the patient is young, orthodontists have more control over permanent teeth by addressing the structure of the jaw and primary teeth. Issues such as missing teeth, extra teeth, and crowding can be fixed in a less invasive, more timely manner when the patient is young. Overbites, underbites, and crossbites can also be treated as the orthodontist modifies the growth of the jaw while permanent teeth emerge.

– Prevent trauma and fix habits. When teeth are protruding out and kids are playing sports or on the playground, it’s very easy for them to fall and crack them. Correcting the problem now may prevent costly surgery later. Phase one can also help habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which become serious when they disrupt the roof of the mouth, tissue, and gums.

– Experience gentle treatment. While some cases require standard braces, most phase one treatments only include four brackets on the top teeth in front and two in the back. These will gradually and effectively guide teeth into place.

– Enjoy lasting results. Phase one treatment time typically lasts between 12 to 15 months. When completed, the patient receives a removable retainer that he or she can customize. This keeps everything secure until the permanent teeth come in before phase two treatment begins.

Because orthodontic conditions are easier to correct if they’re caught early, phase one treatment is an investment that will decrease discomfort for your child – and cost for you – for years to come. So don’t wait ... start treatment early and put your child on the path to a beautiful, healthy smile.