Parents want their children to have healthy, attractive smiles to last a lifetime. One way to achieve this goal is to bring children to visit the orthodontist for the first time at a young age. This helps Dr. Baharak at Smiles 4 Life Orthodontics in Park Slope ensure that your children are on track for the best orthodontic care possible. Here are some common questions and answers about early orthodontic treatment, also called early intervention.
What age should a child first visit the orthodontist?
Age 7 is the magic number recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists for children to have their first orthodontic screening. This way the child can be evaluated to see if orthodontic treatment is expected and the ideal time for the child to begin treatment. At this age, full treatment such as braces may not be advised yet, but you’ll get an idea of what to expect and when.
Why early intervention?
Early intervention helps ensure the best long-term results of orthodontic treatment at the least time and cost. Teeth that haven’t yet erupted may be guided into better positions, and space can be preserved for those teeth to come in. Jaw growth can also be guided with early orthodontic treatment, and the child’s bite may be predicted. Some additional benefits of early intervention are regulating the width of the upper and lower dental arches, avoiding future permanent tooth extractions, correcting thumb sucking, reducing the risk for impacted permanent teeth, or avoiding abnormal speech or swallowing issues.
Is early intervention for all children?
Not every child benefits from early intervention, but should see Dr. Baharak by age 7 to determine if waiting until later is the right choice. Some orthodontic problems are more effectively corrected in the teen years, after all permanent teeth are fully erupted. Sometimes skeletal orthodontic issues should be addressed after growth is completed. During an early intervention appointment, Dr. Baharak can create a treatment plan based on your child and go from there.
What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment?
Some ways that your child can benefit from early intervention include:
- Creating room for erupting teeth so they are not crowded
- Saving space for unerupted teeth
- Reducing the need for tooth extraction
- Lowering the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
- Influencing jaw growth to improve facial symmetry
- Minimizing future treatment time in braces, which also lessens costs
Does early intervention mean no braces later?
Early intervention means that future severe problems may be avoided and later treatment might be simplified. Since all permanent teeth are not erupted by age 7, their final positions are not fully determined. Therefore, a later phase of treatment during the teen years might be required to move permanent teeth to their very best positions. That later treatment time will typically be shortened though. In some cases, further orthodontic treatment is not necessary at all.
Are dentist appointments important during orthodontic treatment?
Whether treatment occurs during an early phase, teenage phase, or both, patients should see their dentist for regular checkups and cleanings every 6 months during treatment. Oral hygiene can be more difficult while wearing braces, so your oral health depends on maintaining dental visits.