Are you wondering whether or not your child will need orthodontic treatment? It’s rare for a child’s teeth to come in perfectly straight, so most children will need some type of orthodontic intervention at some point in their lives.
When is the best time to start orthodontic treatment? The truth is that it is different for everyone. Each individual has their own specific orthodontic issues that need to be addressed. But here is a general timeline for the average patient.
Age 7: Orthodontic Evaluation
Orthodontists recommend that children have an orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. The purpose of the evaluation is to identify any early issues that may need to be addressed sooner rather than later. If there are no serious problems, there may be no need for any orthodontic treatment this time. But if there are some severe issues that could affect the condition of the teeth or the growth of the jaw, it may be helpful to start treatment.
Age 7-10: Early Intervention
If it is determined that orthodontic treatment is necessary after the initial evaluation, it will typically take place between the ages of 7 and 10. Early orthodontic treatment may include:
- Palatal expander. For children who have crossbite on the upper back teeth due to a narrow upper jaw, a palatal expander may be used. This is a fixed appliance across the roof of the mouth that gradually widens the upper jaw. And correct the dental relationship.
- Tooth extraction. Sometimes primary teeth need to be extracted to allow the permanent teeth to come through. Other times permanent teeth may need to be removed due to severe crowding.
- Space maintainer: Sometimes a fixed retainer will be used after a primary tooth extraction to hold the place open for the permanent tooth to come in.
- Partial braces. Sometimes braces will be placed on just the permanent teeth to start the process of aligning the teeth until all of the permanent teeth have come in.
- Functional Appliances: Functional Appliances are used in orthodontic treatment not only to straighten crooked teeth but mainly to align Jaws and to create a better facial profile. It is a life changer that boosts a child’s self esteem and helps to avoid jaw surgery in the future.
- Habits: Some bad habits such as thumb sucking and mouth breathing could be detected and fixed early to avoid the bad consequences on teeth alignment and facial growth.
Age 11-14: Braces or Alternative Teeth Alignment System
Adolescent orthodontics typically includes braces. This is the ideal time to shift the permanent teeth because adolescents experience significant growth spurts during this time, which makes the teeth easier to move and the jaw easier to reshape.
There are alternatives to braces, such as clear alignment systems like Invisalign. If the patient’s orthodontic needs can be met with Invisalign, this is a less noticeable option during this age range.
What are the benefits of early orthodontic intervention?
There are many benefits to starting orthodontic treatment early. Even if your child still has mostly primary teeth in their mouth, early orthodontics can help the permanent teeth to come in correctly. Early treatment can also help to reshape the jaw and encourage proper growth. The biggest benefit is that it can lessen the need for future treatment and shorten the overall time in braces.
My child is already past this age range. Is it too late?
No, it is never too late to pursue orthodontic intervention. Many older teenagers get braces, as well as adults. There are no orthodontic issues that can’t be corrected at any age. Orthodontic treatment can improve your smile, prevent damage to your teeth, and prevent or relieve pain in your jaw. It has long term, even lifelong benefits.
Castle Hills 3D Orthodontics Provides Early Evaluation and Treatment
If your child is at least 7 years old, they should have an orthodontic evaluation. For some children an evaluation leads to treatment. Others may not require any intervention yet. Each individual patient is different. But by having an early evaluation, you can plan for the future and have a better idea of what to expect in terms of orthodontic treatment. Castle Hills 3D Orthodontics would be glad to perform your child’s first evaluation and make a recommendation for treatment.