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early prevention treatment

Early Prevention/Treatment

Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children

What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment, and why might my child need early treatment? How will early treatment benefit my child in the long run?

These are just a few of the questions surrounding the topic of early orthodontic treatment for children. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist by the age of seven. At this point, the orthodontist will evaluate whether your child will need orthodontic treatment.

Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine. Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older. The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, which lessens the chance of extractions and more extensive orthodontic treatment being needed in the future.

How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and should have all permanent teeth by age 13)
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Sucking his or her thumb after age five
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
  • Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner, or even at all
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbite)
  • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight

What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early treatment benefit my child?

Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between them, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.

Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13. By the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve the need for additional procedures like tooth extraction or oral surgery.

Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help eliminate the need for further treatment as an adult, and leave little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic treatment, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, contact the team at Jackson Orthodontics to schedule an appointment! We will happily provide your child with a free initial exam and work with you to determine the best steps to take in optimizing your son or daughter’s smile.

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