Orthodontics for Children
While there is no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends visiting the orthodontist around age seven.
By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, and Dr. Simon can evaluate whether your child may benefit from orthodontic treatment.
Early treatment (also known as Phase One) allows your orthodontist to:
- Correct and guide the growth of your child's jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
- Create more space for crowded teeth
- Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
- Correct thumb sucking and help improve minor speech problems
For parents, it's not always easy to know if your child may need orthodontic treatment.
Here are a few things to look for that may mean your child needs to see an orthodontist:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth (Your child should typically start losing teeth around age five and will have all permanent teeth around age 13.)
- Difficulty chewing or biting food
- Mouth breathing
- Finger or thumb sucking that persists after age 5
- Speach impediments
- Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth around age seven or eight
- Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
- Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other) and may be at increased risk of trauma
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
- Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
- Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early treatment benefit my child?
Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.
Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.
If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child's smile.