You probably know that its never too late to begin orthodontic treatment–but when it comes to your youngster’s teeth, did you know that earlier may be better than later? According to the American Association of Orthodontics, kids should have an initial orthodontic screening at age 7. What makes early evaluation–and potentially, early treatment–so important?
Although every child’s development is different, in most kids the first molars have typically started to emerge by around age 6. This, along with other developmental markers, lets us get a handle on the basic alignment of the teeth, from front to back and side to side. While treatment for common orthodontic problems typically begins around age 9-14, when all of the baby teeth are gone and many of the permanent ones are in place. But there are some conditions that are much easier to treat if they’re caught early, when a child’s natural growth processes are going full speed ahead.
One of the most common conditions is a severe crossbite, where the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. To treat this problem, a device call a palatal expander can be used, which gradually and painlessly widens the upper jaw; it’s especially effective when the jaw itself hasn’t fully developed. If we wait too long, a more complicated treatment–or even oral surgery–might be required to correct the problem.
Early intervention may also be helpful in resolving several other problems. Severe crowding–when the jaws are too small to accommodate all of the permanent teeth–protruding teeth, especially in front, can be prone to chipping and fractures; they may also lead to problems with a child’s self esteem.
It is important to recognize that an early evaluation isn’t necessarily followed by early treatment; in most cases, if orthodontic work isn’t needed at that time, we simply monitor your child’s growth patterns until we see that it’s time for treatment to begin. Here at Hatcher Orthodontics we look forward to building a relationship with your family while we wait for the ideal time to start treatment through our complimentary initial exam and recall system.