Early Orthodontic Treatment and Intervention
The Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment
Early treatment refers to orthodontic treatment while baby teeth are still present. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that you have your child’s first orthodontic checkup by the age of seven. At this age, your child should have enough permanent teeth to accurately assess the developing teeth and jaws and see what problems are present or what potential problems may arise.
In many cases, it is best to wait for all permanent teeth to “erupt” before treatment; however, there are some problems that are prime candidates for early treatment and can become more serious over time if they’re not addressed.
There are a variety of issues that can be corrected with early treatment. They include:
- Highly crowded mouth
- Overly spaced teeth
- Jaw or teeth growth that has been impacted by extensive sucking on the fingers or thumb
Some of these issues can be dealt with by the use of orthodontic appliances, such as braces or headgear. In some situations, teeth have to be removed to allow space for permanent teeth to come in unobstructed. A palatal expander is an example of one device that can be used to expand a child’s upper dental arch, making room for permanent teeth to erupt in a less crowded manner and allowing for more evenly spaced teeth.
What is the goal of early orthodontic treatment?
The goal of early orthodontic treatment is ultimately to eliminate unnecessary work. It’s also okay to start treatment when you are older or as an adult, but there are benefits to starting early. Early intervention can shorten treatment time for braces and can decrease potential jaw issues that might arise later in life. Even if it is determined at the checkup that treatment is not needed, the information is still valuable.
Some ways to tell early treatment might be necessary include, but are not limited to:
- Early or late baby teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Sucking on thumb or fingers when they are older than five
- Speech impediments
- Crowded front teeth
- A shifting jaw
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