Dr. Drew recommends an initial screening appointment around the age of 8 years old. This does not mean your child needs treatment at this age, it is simply a great time to check on his or her growth and development to get a baseline for any future problems. By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, and future orthodontic needs can be evaluated.
Early Orthodontic Treatment (also known as Phase 1 or Early Braces) is typically done in cases where there are jaw growth issues or teeth are not coming in on schedule, and waiting until teenage years is not recommended. It is done at an earlier age (7 to 10 year-olds) as a supplement to future orthodontic treatment.
Here are a few things to look for that might mean your child needs to see an Orthodontist:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- A hard time chewing or biting food
- Mouth breathing
- Finger or thumb sucking
- Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
- Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
- Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
Early treatment allows Orthodontists to:
- Correct and guide the growth of your child’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
- Create more space for crowded teeth
- Correct thumb sucking
What if my child doesn't need early treatment?
That’s great news! That means your son or daughter is like the majority of kids in our office, and we will simply monitor growth until your youngster may be ready for treatment. Growth check appointments are complimentary, and they are important to ensure your child’s teeth are growing on time and in the correct place so that orthodontic treatment can be started at the right time.
If my child does early treatment, will they still need treatment as a teenager?
In most cases, early treatment is the "first phase" of orthodontic treatment, and it is likely that a "second phase" will still be needed around middle school. Many of our early corrections are to normalize jaw growth and involve PALATAL EXPANDERS. However, since all the adult teeth are not in place at age 8, our goals are more limited to one or two specific problems that will make future growth and tooth eruption more favorable.
My dentist never mentioned any of this to me: how do I know if Early Treatment is right for my child?
The best way to find out if your child needs early orthodontic treatment is to schedule a consultation. As experts in tooth movement and facial growth, we are happy to guide you. If another provider has already assessed your child and you are still unsure, we happy to offer second opinions. If your child is not ready for treatment just yet, we will continue to monitor them (free of charge) until they are ready. We are happy to answer your questions and we pride ourselves on conservative, family-friendly care.