What you should know about orthodontics for your children

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Things you should know about your child’s dental needs.

Q: At what age should my child see an orthodontist and why?
A: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that young people see an orthodontist at age seven. Your child may need to be assessed even earlier than seven years old if he/she has an oral habit or other condition that would require early intervention. Your dentist should address these potential needs with you at your child’s regular checkups.

Although only a few orthodontic problems need to be corrected at age seven, an early exam allows the orthodontist to offer advice and guidance as to when the appropriate age to start treatment would be. Some children require “Phase 1” or “Interceptive” orthodontic treatment. This interceptive treatment usually begins at age 7-9 and is often performed to possibly prevent or “intercept” an orthodontic problem.

This early treatment does not necessarily eliminate the need for traditional braces. Some of these problems, however, if not corrected, can lead to serious dental consequences which can require expensive or invasive treatment. For example, an orthodontist will evaluate whether or not your child has sufficient space in their mouth for the incoming adult teeth. Early detection and treatment of a dental crowding can possibly reduce the time and expense required for conventional braces and can also help a child to avoid having permanent teeth removed due to crowding. This early treatment can include the use of retainers, space maintenance appliances, partial braces and occasionally head gear……yes, headgear is still utilized.

Thorough knowledge of the growth and development of children is crucial in deciding when to perform early interceptive orthodontic treatment. Many orthodontic movements are dependent on the dental age of the patient. Orthodontists will attempt to utilize natural growth patterns to assist them in correcting an incorrect bite.

Here are other potential reasons that that may require early orthodontic treatment:

  • Severe malocclusion (“incorrect bite”)
  • Severe crowding
  • Posterior or Anterior Cross bite
  • early or late loss of baby teeth
  • difficulty in chewing or biting
  • mouth breathing
  • Oral habits (Sucking on a thumb or pacifier)
  • speech difficulties
  • facial imbalance
  • grinding or clenching of the teeth

Your child’s dentist will give you their recommendations for your child’s orthodontic needs and when they should visit our pediatric orthodontist office in Queen Creek or any of our other 2 East Valley Locations.