Early Treatment

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The Right Age to Start

Early TreatmentThe American Association of Orthodontists recommends a child first be seen by an orthodontist as early as age 7; earlier if a problem is discovered by a parent or family dentist. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if treated prior to the completion of growth. Early treatment may prevent the need for extraction of permanent teeth, surgery and other serious corrections later in life. However, owing to the complex nature of orthodontics, early treatment may not be right for every child. Only after a clinical examination of your child can the proper treatment plan be determined.

An Optimal Time for Screening

By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.

The Benefits of Early Screening

Early evaluation and treatment can yield many results, including the following:

  • Creating facial symmetry through influencing positive jaw growth
  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Correcting harmful oral habits
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time for orthodontic care
  • Improving self-esteem, image and some speech problems

Phase I Treatment

Early Interceptive Treatment (also known as Phase I), if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. Phase One treatment lasts about 6-12 months, and usually involves a Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE). The primary objective for Phase I treatment is to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe and to improve self-esteem and self-image.

Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.