As a parent, you want your child to have a healthy, beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime. A part of achieving this is bringing your child in to see an orthodontist at an early age. Dr. David Lee and the entire team at Lee Orthodontics in Concord, CA will happily provide early orthodontic treatment as a means to ensure that your child’s smile and mouth develop correctly.
Before you come into our Concord office, you may have some questions about the process of early orthodontic treatment. As a part of our orthodontist’s commitment to making you as comfortable as possible with your treatment, here are some of the most commonly asked questions and their answers.
When is the best time to begin orthodontic treatment?
An orthodontist can enhance your smile at any age. However, the optimal time to begin treatment is in early childhood. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child’s initial orthodontic evaluation take place at the first sign of an orthodontic problem, or by the age of seven.
At this early age full orthodontic services like braces may not be necessary, but a vigilant examination allows your orthodontist to anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment. Additionally, commencing treatment at this time ensures the greatest long-term result and the least amount of time and expense.
Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for an initial consultation?
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 the age of seven the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. At this time Dr. Lee can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. From that analysis he can predict how your bite will develop. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding, or gummy smiles. The earlier these evaluations are completed, the higher the chance for an incredible smile.
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
- A hard time chewing or biting food
- Mouth breathing
- Finger or thumb sucking
- Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
- Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
- Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
- Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
What are the benefits of an early orthodontic evaluation?
Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems, and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. This intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious issues later on.
When orthodontic intervention is not necessary right away, Dr. Lee carefully monitors growth and development so he knows when is the most ideal time to begin orthodontic services like braces or Invisalign.
Some of the most direct benefits of early orthodontic treatment are:
- Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
- Improving facial symmetry by influencing jaw growth
- Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
- Preserving space for non-erupted teeth
- Lowering the need for tooth removal
- Minimizing treatment time with braces
Will I need a phase II in the future?
Early treatment usually involves partial braces and orthodontic appliances (for instance, an expander). The reason early treatment is often referred to as Phase One orthodontic treatment is because early treatment does not eliminate the need for later treatment (once all the permanent teeth are present). Therefore, it’s important to understand that at the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final position.
At the end of the first phase, Dr. Lee will recommend a “resting period” for your child. During this time, the doctors monitor the eruption of permanent teeth and evaluate your child’s growth and development at regular intervals. While teeth may not erupt into an ideal position, early treatment (Phase One) usually prevents the occurrence of severely displaced or impacted teeth. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may best facilitate eruption during this resting period.
A second phase of treatment begins when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually around 12 years of age. This is almost always necessary to achieve full correction. The second phase involves treating all the upper and lower teeth in an effort to establish an ideal balance between the teeth and the jaws, create a healthy, functional bite and beautiful smile
Are you a candidate for orthodontic treatment?
Even if you like the way your smile looks, that doesn’t mean you should skip out on orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic treatment is not merely for improving the aesthetics of your smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment, and they affect the way you smile, chew, and clean your teeth. According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems, including:
- Crowded teeth that are more difficult to properly brush and floss, and therefore are more prone to tooth decay and/or gum disease
- Protruding teeth that are more susceptible to accidental chipping
- Crossbites that can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear
- Open bites that can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments
Start Safeguarding your child’s smile today!
Orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile—it creates a healthier, happier you. So get your child started on early orthodontic treatment. A visit to your trusted Concord orthodontist today is a step toward a future of strong and beautiful teeth. Contact us directly, or book an appointment online.