Early Intervention for Orthodontic Treatment
People often associate orthodontic treatment like braces with teenagers. But there can be huge benefits to having your child examined by an orthodontist to determine whether early intervention (also called phase one treatment) is appropriate for them.
Below we look at some of the reasons why early intervention is necessary and how it can make orthodontics easier for the child in the long run.
When Should a Child See an Orthodontist?
There are differing opinions about when a child should first see an orthodontist, with some arguing that it should be done as early as age 6 or 7. The Australian Society of Orthodontists recommends children between the ages of 8 to 10 visit a specialist orthodontist for assessment.
There are several signs you can notice at home to determine whether your child may need early treatment, including:
- early loss of primary (baby) teeth (before age five)
- late loss of primary teeth (after age five or six)
- finger or thumb sucking
- crowded teeth
- teeth that don’t meet properly or at all
- mouth breathing
- protruding teeth (often at the front)
- biting or chewing difficulties
- a speech impediment
- teeth and jaws that are disproportionate to other facial features
In some cases, a family dentist may notice some irregularities during routine check-ups, prompting them to recommend an orthodontic assessment. But it’s best to get in touch with an orthodontist if in doubt.
Benefits of Early Intervention Treatment
When a child is young, their teeth and jaw are still growing and developing, creating conditions that make orthodontic problems easier to address. Their skeletal structure is still malleable, which is why bad habits like finger and thumb sucking can create orthodontic problems in the first place.
By getting early intervention treatment, the jaw can be modified to avoid the need for tooth extraction or surgery later in life and shorten the overall treatment time for the child. The goal of early intervention treatment is to develop the child’s jaws using a retainer or partial braces to make room for the future eruption of permanent teeth and improve alignment.
Potential benefits of early intervention treatment include:
- influencing jaw growth in a positive way
- improving the width of dental arches
- reducing the need for removing teeth later
- reducing or eliminating the need for jaw surgery
- help correct bad habits
- lower the risk of trauma to protruded teeth
- simplifying and shortening treatment time
- increasing stability of final treatment results
- improving appearance and self-esteem
- improving compliance before teenage years
Patients with cross bites and protruding front teeth greatly benefit from early intervention treatments. It’s crucial to correct these conditions as early as possible, which left untreated, can lead to receding gums, tooth loss and asymmetrical growth of the jaw and facial structure.
Is Early Intervention Treatment Suitable For My Child?
While early orthodontics can be effective, children usually require further treatment later on, such as braces when they’re a teenager. This isn’t because early intervention doesn’t work, but because the adolescent growth phase (13 to 16 years) is the most rapid stage of growth, making it ideal for orthodontic treatment.
Early intervention is not always necessary, and some dentists and orthodontists have recommended it without valid reason. Many children have crooked teeth or look disproportionate then blossom into a beautiful adult without the need for any treatment. Similarly, mild crowding is natural around the ages of 10 to 12.
The important point is that symptoms like crowded or crooked teeth do not indicate an absolute necessity for treatment. Always get a second opinion if in doubt and seek an experienced orthodontist with a strong track record.
Early Intervention Orthodontics in Newcastle
If you’d like more information about early intervention orthodontics or would like to have your child examined by an experienced specialist orthodontist in Newcastle, get in touch with our team.
Call 02 4956 2020 or schedule an appointment online.