In the past, children weren’t sent to the orthodontist until all of their permanent teeth were in. In recent years, however, there has been a big push for children to visit the orthodontist at an earlier age. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children be seen by the age of 7. By the age of 7 there are enough permanent teeth to evaluate the developing teeth and jaws for concerns that may be problematic in the future.
Early orthodontic intervention is essentially orthodontic treatment while there are still baby teeth present. The goal of early treatment is to intercept developing problems and eliminate the cause.
WHY SCREEN EARLY?
- Crowding actually increases in the mouth from age 6 to 12. Early intervention can prevent this increase and preserve available space.
- Early intervention significantly decreases the need for permanent tooth extractions or jaw surgery in the future.
- Early intervention allows the orthodontist to guide the development and growth of the jaws into a more correct and natural position.
WHAT DOES SCREENING ENTAIL, AND IS IT COSTLY?
A FREE screening appointment will result in one of the following outcomes:
- No treatment is currently necessary. This applies to the majority of children.
- Some early treatment may be needed in the future, but we will keep monitoring to determine if and when it is appropriate.*
- Early orthodontic treatment is recommended. If this is the case, the reasons why and benefits will be thoroughly explained and you can decide how you would like to proceed.
*There is never a charge to you or your insurance for screening visits. Even if children are seen 2 or 3 times a year until ready for treatment, no charges are ever incurred until the child has orthodontic appliances placed.
ISSUES REQUIRING EARLY TREATMENT
While there are many orthodontic issues that can wait to be corrected until all the permanent teeth are
in, early treatment is beneficial when the problem may cause serious issues in the future. Some problems that may need early treatment are:
- Underbites: when the lower teeth are in front of the top teeth
- Crossbite: A misalignment when upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth on opposite sides
- Very crowded teeth
- Excessively spaced teeth
- Extra or missing teeth
- Open or abnormal bites
- Thumb, finger, or pacifier sucking that is causing the jaw to grow abnormally
Early treatment can take on many forms. Sometimes it can be in the form of a fixed appliance used to widen or move the jaw into the desired position. Sometimes simple removal of selected baby teeth is the best course of action. The extraction of these baby teeth will help the permanent teeth come into the right position. Whatever course of action is taken, some orthodontic issues are easier to take care of if you catch the problem early on.
At Families First Orthodontics, we offer free consultations to see if your child would benefit from early orthodontic intervention. Give our office a call to get set up today. We can be reached at (801) 515-5858.