Many parents do not realize the importance of bringing children in for their first orthodontic appointment early. The American Board of Orthodontics recommends that all children have their first orthodontic screening by age seven. In some cases, dentists may spot potential problems and recommend that children by seen by an orthodontist even earlier.
At age seven, children’s permanent teeth have yet to erupt and the jaws are still growing and developing. If there are indications of problems with the way that a child’s mouth is growing and developing, orthodontists can begin treatment methods to help guide the jaws and teeth through this process. This may help to prevent problems that have not occurred yet. Early treatment of this nature can help parents save money and can make treatment much easier for children than after the teeth and jaws are fully developed.
There are many potential problems that early treatment can help to correct. In many cases, orthodontists identify a lack of space in the mouth and help to create more space for when permanent teeth erupt. This can prevent crowding issues, reduce the likelihood of impactions, and eliminate or minimize the need for later extractions.
Early treatment can also correct thumb or finger sucking habits, reduce the risks of fracturing protruding front teeth, and eliminate or prevent problems with speech and swallowing. By correcting these problems early, children can have a healthy and beautiful smile for life. This can boost self esteem and even improve lifelong dental health.
Not all children are in need of early orthodontic treatment. Some children’s jaws and teeth grow and develop without complications naturally. Other children may have issues that are best addressed at later ages when jaw and tooth growth is more advanced or completed.
However, having an orthodontic evaluation at an early age can help orthodontists to spot problems that can be corrected early, making treatment easier and less costly. Having an evaluation done early can also help orthodontists spot potential complications and monitor growth and development regularly so that orthodontic treatment can be started at exactly the most optimal time.
In some cases, receiving orthodontic treatment while growing and developing can help children to avoid the need for braces and other treatments later. However, since early treatment occurs when all permanent teeth have not yet erupted, there may be some need to correct the final alignment of teeth. This phase is often shortened considerably when early treatment has been administered.