Since the 1990’s, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) has recommended orthodontic evaluations for children at 7 years old, when most are losing baby teeth and their permanent teeth are emerging. These early evaluations allow orthodontists to recognize irregularities in your child’s mouth before they become major orthodontic issues.
In the past, orthodontics was routinely an early teen event that began once all of the baby teeth were lost and permanent teeth have erupted.
Every person is different, and there really is no rule that all the permanent teeth should be in before a patient can have braces. In fact, sometimes waiting on all of the permanent teeth to come in can actually cause major problems to develop!
Early orthodontic evaluation provides both timely diagnosis of problems and increased opportunity for more effective treatment. Early intervention gives the ability to guide growth and development, preventing more serious issues later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.
Early orthodontic treatment is often started because certain irregularities like crowded teeth are easier to treat in a 7 year old child than an older child or an adult because a 7 year old child’s jaw is still growing.
If your child didn’t have an orthodontic evaluation until all permanent teeth had emerged, he or she might need teeth pulled to alleviate the crowding or more extensive straightening to even the spacing between teeth. Early intervention is particularly important when children are subjected to bullying and teasing by their peers. In these cases, treatment can greatly improve self esteem during the formative years of childhood.
It is important to remember, orthodontics is not strictly a cosmetic endeavour, and bite alignment is the ultimate goal. The issues presented above can all be corrected fairly easily if done in a phased approach by:
– Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
– Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
– Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
– Preserving space for teeth that are coming in
– Reducing the need for tooth removal
If your child is around the age of 7, and especially if you’re already noticing spacing problems or issues with your child’s bite or jaw, we encourage you to schedule an evaluation with us today to determine if early orthodontic treatment might be beneficial.
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