Early orthodontic treatment in children, also known as interceptive orthodontic treatment or pre-orthodontics, can help identify and treat potential issues early before they develop into more serious oral problems. Intervention can begin as early as age 7, while the teeth are still developing and the jaw is still growing. At this early age, certain dental conditions such as over-crowding and cross-bites may be easier to correct.
The major benefits of early orthodontic intervention include:
1. Earlier is Better
Some orthodontic conditions are easier to correct if they are identified earlier in life. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends all children receive an orthodontic screening by the age of 7.
By this age, permanent teeth are coming in and your child’s jaw has grown large enough for a pediatric dentist to identify potential orthodontic issues, such as over-crowding, protruding teeth and cross-bites. Early orthodontic screening and treatment can help treat problems early and prevent more serious problems from developing in the future.
2. The Developing Mouth
Children can benefit greatly from early intervention because their jaw is still growing and their teeth are still developing. An early orthodontic screening ensures there is ample space for permanent teeth to come in. If it is determined that the dental arch is too small to fit all the adult teeth, it may be possible to expand the arch. This can help guide the teeth into better positions as they emerge through the gums, and reduce the need to extract teeth to make more space in the mouth.
3. Early Prevention
One of the greatest benefits to early orthodontic treatment is that it can reduce the need for future, and possibly more invasive, dental treatment. Intervening early, while the jaw and teeth are still developing, means potential issues may be corrected before they become more serious and it offers a better prognosis for the development of permanent teeth. It can even help a child avoid braces later in life, which will save the parents money and the child stress from the daily maintenance and upkeep of braces.
Moreover, in the case additional orthodontic treatment is still needed at some point in the future, early treatment often helps shorten and simplify future treatment.
4. Out with the Old, In with the New
An early orthodontic screening can help detect and correct any harmful habits that could cause future development issues, such as tongue pushing, teeth grinding or thumb sucking. These habits often start early in life and, in some cases, the child is not even aware of them. Detecting them early through an orthodontic screening means they can be corrected before they become an issue.
5. Enhance Self-esteem and Confidence
When it comes to their appearance, children can be just as self-conscious as adults. Early orthodontic intervention can help cosmetically improve your child’s appearance by creating a more attractive and functional arrangement of teeth and jaw. For example, it can help align the jaw to create a more symmetrical smile and facial appearance, fix an unattractive over-bite or make more room in the mouth without having to extract any teeth.
6. Peace of Mind
Sometimes the simple fact of knowing whether your child needs corrective dental work can offer peace of mind to parents who are concerned for their children’s oral health. Interceptive orthodontic treatment is all about preventing more serious problems from developing later on, and many parents feel reassured to know they’ve helped alleviate some of that future stress.
How Can I Tell if My Child May Need Early Orthodontic Treatment?
The best way to know for sure if your child may need early orthodontic treatment is to schedule an orthodontic screening around the age of 7 so a professional can assess your child’s unique needs.
That said, a few early warning signs which may indicate the need for treatment include:
- Protruding teeth (the top or bottom teeth extend away from each other)
- Thumb sucking after the age of five
- Crowded teeth or teeth that appear too large for their mouth
- A large gap between teeth
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty breathing, chewing or biting
- Speech disorders
- An asymmetrical smile or unbalanced facial appearance
- Injuries to the mouth or teeth
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
- Jaws that jut too far forward of the back
- Front teeth that do not meet
Want to learn more? Contact Integrative Dental Solutions for an early orthodontic screening.
Phone: (262) 691-4555