Is Early orthodontic treatment necessary?

September 30, 2023

For parents, it can be hard to understand why it is important to start orthodontic treatment early on in a child's life. Decades ago, orthodontia wasn’t common for children to start until hitting their later teenage years. But the modern approach to orthodontics emphasizes the importance of early orthodontic treatment to stop the issues with the bite from growing worse over time. In fact, dental experts recommend making a first visit to the orthodontist by age seven, with braces being placed as young as age nine. Taking early action helps to correct issues and prevents pain for the child due to misplaced or crowded teeth. Let’s take a look at the reasons it is crucial to start orthodontic treatment as early as possible.

Why Start Orthodontics Early?

A child’s baby teeth can come in misplaced, crowded, or crooked, which is an indicator that the adult teeth will come in the same way. In some cases, factors like extended use of a pacifier, bottle feeding to sleep on a regular basis, or thumb sucking for many years can create a dental issue such as a crossbite. As children grow older and become teenagers and then adults, their bones grow less malleable and get firmer. Once they solidify, bones are much harder to re-shape. This means the longer you wait to start orthodontia, the harder it will be for the orthodontist to give your child a perfect smile. This can lead to longer treatment times and a higher chance of needing to surgically intervene to remove extra teeth and make more space in the mouth. Instead of waiting to have the orthodontic treatment done, early intervention can correct your child’s dental issues in a less invasive way than extraction. For example, a cross bite can be treated using retainers and palate expanders to create more space in the mouth.

Many children come to the orthodontist with the same issues, including overbites, underbites, and a mouth that is too crowded with teeth. If left in place longer, the teeth grow accustomed to this placement, making it harder to correct in the long run. A misaligned bite can lead to larger problems, including gum disease, tooth wear, and jaw pains. Kids might find it hard to chew certain foods and favor one side of the mouth to make it easier to eat. It can also cause issues with poor self-esteem for children. The sooner you address these issues, the faster the orthodontic treatment can be completed, helping to raise your child's self-esteem.

What Happens When Your Child Goes to The Orthodontist?

Your child's initial visit to the orthodontist is fairly straightforward, with the main goal being to allow the doctor to assess the issues with your child's bite and devise a treatment plan that addresses them all. In addition to taking x-rays and examining them, the doctor will examine the teeth in person for issues. After this, a treatment plan for your child is developed.

When should you start orthodontic treatment?

The actual age when you should begin orthodontics can vary based on the child and the severity of the issues that present with the teeth. In most cases, the orthodontist will recommend waiting for all the adult teeth to come in. This can happen between the ages of nine and fourteen. If there is a larger issue that is impacting the child's quality of life, the orthodontist may place braces on the baby teeth to help them get the full Benefits of early orthodontic treatment.

What Happens After Orthodontic Treatment?

One of the main Benefits of early orthodontic treatment is the effectiveness rate it has. Thanks to the way the jaw bones develop, taking action to correct issues before they are fully formed and in place acts as a permanent solution to these problems. After completing orthodontia and having braces removed, your child can have the benefit of a beautiful smile for their entire adult life. By wearing retainers at night and having regular check-ups with the orthodontist, the results can stay looking great for years.

If you are seeing issues with your child's bite, don't wait to take action. Baker Pediatric Dentistry can help address any questions you have about orthodontics for children, the Benefits of early orthodontic treatment, and when is the right time to start treatment for your child. Contact us today to make an appointment with our experienced pediatric dentist. 

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