We follow the American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendation that every child have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. Usually the first permanent molars and permanent incisors have come in by that time. Early (phase I) treatment is only recommended in about 5-10% of the patients we evaluate. In most cases, growth and development is seen as normal and no intervention is required.
Treatment is not usually started at this age unless severe problems exist which will adversely affect the way the teeth or jaws are growing. In these cases, two phases of orthodontic treatment is recommended. Such problems include:
- Severe crowding
- Crooked teeth causing psychological stress
- When the midlines of the upper and lower teeth don’t line up (this potentially indicates other problems)
- When upper or lower front teeth protrude excessively
- Habits such as thumb sucking/finger sucking
- Unusually early loss of certain baby teeth
In such cases of severe problems, treating them early can help avoid the development of more serious dental problems over time. The longer these problems go unrecognized, the harder they are to treat. Many of these orthodontic problems can be treated much easier by working with the growth that takes place in younger children. Therefore, the orthodontist can guide the growth of the jaw and guide incoming permanent teeth. Regulating the width of upper and lower dental arches, making space for permanent teeth (avoiding the need for extractions later), reducing the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correcting thumb sucking, and correcting abnormal swallowing or speech problems are all potential benefits of early treatment. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment!
However, in cases where none of these problems exist, it is better to wait to begin treatment until all of the baby teeth are lost. In that case we will see you for periodic check-ups until you are ready to begin. Remember that consultations and periodic check-ups are free of charge! Just like many other things in life, there is an optimal time for starting orthodontic treatment. You can be assured that if orthodontic treatment is necessary, it will begin at the ideal time. When children and teens are ready to begin, we have a wide variety of treatment options for them. We have eliminated the use of un-esthetic appliances like headgears. The majority of appliances we use to correct your teeth are much more comfortable, and are customized to your treatment!
We understand visiting any kind of doctor can be frightening for young children, so you’ll want to look for an orthodontist who really knows how to work with kids. Dr. Irving Eckstein and Dr. Azariy Yusupov are an excellent choice because they have extensive experience working with children. The fun and relaxing environment in our office will make even the most nervous of patients feel right at home. If your child needs an orthodontist, please contact the office to set up a free initial consultation.