Early Orthodontic Treatment Explained

smiling child with dental wires

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit an orthodontist by the age of seven. While most children won’t require orthodontic work this young, other children may benefit from early orthodontic care.

“Sometimes, we see problems that will best be treated by what is known as two-phase orthodontic treatment,” says Alpharetta orthodontist Dr. Nima. “Phase 1, or early interceptive treatment, begins before all of the permanent teeth have come in. The goal is to create an ideal environment in which the permanent teeth can erupt, and lessen the amount of future orthodontic treatment that is needed.”

Dr. Nima performs early interceptive treatment between the ages of seven and 10 to prevent an already forming orthodontic issue from worsening. This treatment, when performed at the right time, can prevent more serious treatment, such as jaw surgery, in the future.

“My goal during this phase of treatment is always the same,” says Dr. Nima. “And that is to create a successful future for the child, that hopefully avoids the need for more extensive, and more expensive, treatment in the future.”

Early Treatment To Prevent Jaw Surgery

One thing early treatment can help is a jaw that is too small to accommodate permanent teeth without severe crowding occurring. If a patient waits until the jaw has finished growing to undergo treatment, jaw surgery could result. However, Dr. Nima can introduce treatment that can help aid jaw growth, and help move the teeth into new positions to accommodate the eruption of permanent teeth and future jaw growth.

Why To Begin Orthodontic Treatment Early

“Many parents may wonder why they should begin orthodontic treatment early, when a child may still have some of the baby teeth,” says Dr. Nima. “The simple answer is that what we can do at a younger age when the bones are soft and correctable, cannot be done when the child is finished growing. We also can prevent tooth impaction, which can cause serious problems that could have been less severe had treatment begun earlier. And that means it can also save time and money.”

The first phase of treatment often involves an expander or other orthodontic appliances, along with partial braces, to guide the teeth and jaw. Then, once they’re in the right place, there will be a resting period, during which the remaining permanent teeth will be allowed to erupt. Some patients may wear a retainer during this phase.

Then, once all the permanent teeth have come in, the second phase of treatment will begin. This will be what moves teeth to their final locations and creates the ideal bite for the patient.

It’s important that children see an orthodontist by the age of seven,” says Dr. Nima. “Even if treatment isn’t indicated at that time, we can monitor the mouth and begin treatment at the precise time to offer the most ideal results. We can correct harmful habits that may be damaging the child’s bite, and improve the overall function and health of the smile.”

If your child is past the age of seven and hasn’t had a consultation with an orthodontist, schedule one with Dr. Nima today.

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