By Vishant Nath DMD
When trying to determine if or when your child may need to see an orthodontist, your pediatric dentist is a great place to start. Pediatric dentists are trained to identify malocclusion (crowded or crooked teach or bite problems) in their patients. Your pediatric dentist can then guide you along the way as you locate and choose the right orthodontist, should your child require orthodontic treatment. This article will provide some information regarding the initial phase of orthodontic treatment.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child have a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. Occasionally, children as young as 4 to 6 are treated for certain orthodontic problems such as underbites.
The initial phase, or phase 1 orthodontic treatment, can begin in children as young as 4-years old. This may seem quite young, but when it comes to orthodontic treatment, earlier intervention can prevent more extensive (and often costlier) treatments, as a child grows older.
Phase 1 treatment can intercept bite problems during a child’s early years from age 4 to 10. Some common bite problems include cross-bites, severe crowding and severe protrusions. This treatment works well in younger children, whose jawbones have not yet fused together (this fusion typically starts at age 8). Overlooking this type of treatment in a young patient can lead to the need for more extensive treatments later, such as jaw surgery or extraction of permanent teeth. This treatment allows the orthodontist to modify the shape of the jaw and create more room for the primary teeth that are still present.
Phase 1 treatment can often be completed in a year or less. The orthodontist will then allow for the patient’s remaining primary teeth to be lost and the permanent teeth to come in. At this time, a reassessment is performed to determine if more orthodontic treatment is needed.
There should be no denying the importance of orthodontic treatment at any age. It’s estimated that 25% of orthodontic patients are adults! Orthodontics is devoted to building beautiful smiles by bringing teeth, lips, and jaws into proper alignment. Straight teeth function better, are easier to clean and are more likely to last your lifetime. Having straight teeth goes hand in hand with having healthy teeth. We now offer family orthodontics at our Alpharetta, Roswell and Canton locations. Please call for a free consultation with our board certified orthodontists.