Children’s Orthodontic Treatment
While there’s no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, we’ll usually start looking at your child when they are around age seven. By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it easier to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery.
Early treatment with kid’s braces:
- Corrects and guides the growth of your child’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight.
- Regulates the width of the upper and lower arches.
- Creates more space for crowded teeth.
- Avoids the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life.
- Corrects thumb-sucking and help improve minor speech problems.
How do you know if your child needs braces?
Here are some things to look for that may mean your child will need orthodontics:
- Early/late loss of baby teeth
- If your child has a hard time chewing or biting food
- Mouth breathing
- Finger or thumb sucking
- Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
- Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
- Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
- Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
- Crowded front teeth around age 7 or 8
Two Phase Orthodontic Treatment
What is two-phase orthodontic treatment?
In some children, an early start can mean less complicated treatment later on. Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a process combining tooth straightening and physical, facial changes in growing kids. The purpose of two-phase treatment is to use growth to get an ideal healthy, functional result that will remain stable. Since all of the adult teeth are not present yet, we use specialized orthodontic appliances to guide growth, make space and correct bite problems early. As your child grows, many problems can be resolved resulting in easier and shorter treatment times when they are older.
What if I don’t do early treatment?
If we recommend a two phase approach, we are not only seeing problems with tooth alignment but with skeletal development of your child as well. Putting off treatment can result in a need for more invasive treatment later in life that may not completely fix your child’s smile. Early treatment is most effective in fixing these types of problems.
Phase One: The foundation for a lifetime of beautiful smiles
The goal of phase one treatment is to help the jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all of the permanent teeth and to improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. If children are found to have to have jaw discrepancies, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. Early treatment can avoid the need to extract permanent teeth later and may also prevent the need for surgical procedures to realign the jaws.
Making records to determine your unique treatment
Orthodontic records are necessary to determine the type of appliances to be used, the duration of treatment time, and the frequency of visits. Records consist of models of the teeth, X-rays, and photographs. After an initial consultation, we will take records to determine if early treatment is needed.
At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will usually be accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of baby teeth may be indicated during this resting phase. Retaining devices may not be used if they would interfere with eruption as we wait and monitor as the eruption of the rest of the permanent teeth. A successful first phase will have created room for permanent teeth so they don’t become impacted or erupt in the wrong position.
Phase Two: Refinement for a lifetime of beautiful smiles
The second phase begins when all permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires full upper and lower braces. The goal of the second phase is to move each tooth to its final location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this is established, the teeth will function together properly.
Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure your child keeps their beautiful smile nice and straight!