It all starts with an orthodontic evaluation by age 7, and we’re celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month by driving home that important message.
Evaluation by age 7 is the official recommendation of the American Association of Orthodontists. There are physiological reasons for this, and a study published last year in the “American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics” found that about one in three children who received early orthodontic treatment for severely protruding teeth were less likely to experience dental trauma.
Why is 7 the magic age? This is when children have a mixture of baby and adult teeth, and the bite is established. This means we can determine whether subtle problems exist with jaw growth and emerging teeth, and take interceptive action if necessary.
One concern we often hear from parents is that age 7 seems awfully young to begin orthodontic treatment. The truth is that most children don’t require treatment at this stage. These evaluations frequently reveal that there is nothing wrong with your child’s bite.
Children Placed on the Monitoring Program
However, there are some occasions when we identify a developing problem. In those cases, we determine whether treatment is called for, or it is best to take no corrective action other than to continue monitoring your child’s growth and development. Children placed in our monitoring program are rechecked every six months to a year so we can gauge when and if treatment is needed.
“These are the cases that typically are recommended in an effort to get your child off a surgery or extraction path,” says Dr. Nima.
Children Who Need Early Corrective Treatments
Cases that call for early treatment don’t always involve conventional brackets and arch wires. Instead, we may use orthodontic appliances to take advantage of the fact that your child is still growing. That growth can be used to our advantage. Various appliances can inhibit or promote jaw growth, widen the palate, or create more space so adult teeth can erupt properly, to name a few examples.
Early treatment can achieve some corrections that cannot be accomplished once a child’s jaws have finished growing. See this post: Dramatic Improvement After Early Orthodontic Treatment (Phase I)
In addition to correcting crowding, spacing, alignment and bite issues, it’s worth mentioning during National Children’s Dental Health Month that orthodontic treatment promotes improved oral health in addition to improving facial aesthetics. Teeth that are properly spaced and aligned are easier to keep clean. Keeping your teeth clean and eliminating areas in which food particles can accumulate helps reduce the risk of tooth decay.
You can learn more about the benefits of children orthodontics by contacting us to schedule a free exam.