Does early treatment benefit all children?
Early treatment does not necessarily benefit all children. Certain types of orthodontic problems can be more easily and efficiently corrected in the teen years when all the permanent teeth have grown in. Some skeletal orthodontic discrepancies should not be addressed until growth is more advanced or even completed. The doctor develops a plan for treatment based on each individual child’s needs. But we still recommend your child come in for a consultation around age 7 for the best results.
If the doctor decides the patient is not ready for treatment, they are placed on our orthodontic supervisory program.
In addition to a beautiful new smile, what are some other benefits of orthodontic treatment?
Braces can improve the function of the bite and teeth, improve the ability to clean the teeth, prevent wear on the teeth, and increase the longevity of natural teeth over a lifetime.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that most children have an orthodontic screening by age seven. This allows our orthodontists to determine if orthodontic treatment will be required and the best time for the patient to be treated. Many of the dentists in our community have been trained to identify orthodontic problems early and may refer you to our office earlier than age 7.
Not all children need early treatment. For those children, we offer no-charge observation exams every 6–12 months. We call this our Kids Club. Once your child is ready for orthodontic treatment, a treatment plan will be recommended by the doctor.
Why are children being evaluated at such an early age?
Early diagnosis and treatment can guide growing and changing teeth into a better position, preserve space for permanent teeth, and reduce the likelihood of fracturing protruded front teeth.
If early treatment is indicated, our orthodontists can guide the growth of the jaw and incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb sucking, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment after all the permanent teeth erupt.
What is the Orthodontic Supervisory Program?
Our Kids Club is an orthodontic supervisory program for patients who are not ready for treatment and have been placed on observation. This program enables our orthodontists to monitor the eruptive pattern of permanent teeth. Sometimes, poor erupted patterns of permanent teeth may be eliminated with early removal of baby teeth and reduce the treatment time required for braces. We will notify your general dentist of any recommendations made during your visit. We normally see the patients on observation every 6–12 months to monitor their progress as they grow. There is no fee for this program, and it helps the orthodontists determine the optimum time to begin treatment and achieve the best possible result for your child.
If a child has treatment early, will this prevent the need for braces as an adolescent?
Early treatment can begin the correction of significant problems, prevent more severe problems from developing, and simplify future treatment. Because all of the permanent teeth have not yet grown in when early treatment is performed, their final alignment may not have been corrected. Typically, a shortened comprehensive phase of treatment (Phase II — full braces) in the pre-teen/teen years, after all the permanent teeth have erupted, completes the correction. However, in some circumstances, further orthodontic treatment may not be indicated.
Do we still need to see our family dentist during orthodontic treatment?
Patients with braces and other orthodontic appliances require more effort to keep their teeth and gums clean. Because our orthodontists want to ensure the highest level of dental health, they will encourage you to see your family dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings during treatment.