Orthodontics & Braces for Children

Early Child Orthodontics

The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends an initial visit around age seven, or when the first permanent teeth start to erupt. While not every child would require orthodontic treatment at this age, there are certain indications where treatment would yield tremendous benefits. This Early Treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine. Some of the more common goals of early treatment are crossbite correction (narrow upper jaw), the reduction of a significant overjet (upper front teeth ahead of lower front teeth) and the redirection of extractions in the future. Phase One treatments are typically completed within a year, and after which the child's growth and tooth development are monitored by the orthodontist. 

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

Orthodontic problems such as significant crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth (usually between the upper front teeth), jaw growth problems, severely protruding front teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by early or late loss of baby teeth, thumb-sucking habits, or even an injury to the mouth.

When indicated, early treatment can be extremely beneficial for your child. Early treatment can redirect a child's still developing teeth and jaws into a more favorable position. These types of movements are much more difficult, if not impossible, once the majority of jaw growth is completed. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for tooth extraction, or even jaw surgery, as a teen or adult.

What is the advantage of two-phase orthodontic treatment?

Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a specialized process that combines tooth straightening and physical, facial changes. The purpose of two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional, and aesthetic result that will remain stable throughout your child's life.

Importance of Early Orthodontic Treatment

When indicated, orthodontics for young children can prevent more invasive treatment in the future. Early treatment is most effective for achieving lasting results.

Phase One

A 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 improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. An upper jaw that is growing too much or is too narrow can be recognized at an early age. If children over the age of six are found to have this jaw discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. Also, if children around the age of eight have crowded front teeth, early treatment can prevent the need to extract permanent teeth later.

  • Planning now can improve your child's smile later

    Children benefit tremendously from early-phase treatment. Receiving early treatment may prevent the removal of permanent teeth later in life, or the need for surgical procedures to realign the jaws.

  • Collecting the necessary information to determine your child's individualized treatment

    Orthodontic records will be 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. During your child's initial consultation, the doctor will take records to determine if early treatment is necessary.

Resting Period

In this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are left alone as they erupt. Retaining devices may not be recommended if they would interfere with eruption. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement. A successful first phase will have created room for permanent teeth to find an eruption path. Otherwise, they may become impacted or severely displaced.

  • Monitoring the tooth eruption sequence

    At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption of adult teeth during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a three to six-month basis.

Phase Two

The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. Phase Two usually involves full upper and lower braces.

At the beginning of the first phase, orthodontic records were made and a diagnosis and treatment plan was established. Certain types of appliances were used in the first phase to correct and realign the teeth and jaw. The second phase begins when permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires braces or Invisalign treatment for an average of 24 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure your child retains his or her beautiful smile.

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