Dental Check-Ups and Orthodontics in Young Children
In most cases, a child will need to begin their orthodontic transformation once all (or most) of their permanent teeth are in. But in some cases, early intervention is needed.
It’s crucial to take your growing child for regular dental cleanings and checkups. During these important visits, your family dentist will examine the development of your child's mouth. If issues start to present themselves, they can be caught and addressed quickly.
For instance, if it looks like your child has a narrow arch and won’t have enough room for all of her permanent teeth to come in correctly, Phase I (Phase One) orthodontic treatment, also called ‘interceptive orthodontic treatment,’ can begin. By providing an arch expansion, your child's permanent teeth won’t be forced to be crowded.
This is an issue that can be dealt with later in life, as an adult - but it’s much easier and quicker to treat in a child since we can take advantage of their growing mouth. Phase I treatment uses orthodontic appliances, retainer-like devices, and partial braces to prevent a problem from occurring, correct a current problem or modify your child’s growth and dental development.
What are some indications Phase I treatment may be needed?
A bite that comes together wrong can have a number of consequences like pain in the jaw, neck, and head. Others include wear of the teeth, jaw and facial skeletal malformities, and obviously crowding of the teeth. Too much spacing is also a concern.
An improper bite can be:
- A cross-bite: When the teeth meet together, some of the upper teeth are sitting behind the lower ones, but others aren’t.
- An underbite: The lower front teeth are in front of the upper teeth.
- A deep bite: When closed, the upper front teeth are positioned in front of the lower front teeth.
- An open bite: An opening remains between the top and bottom front teeth when the jaws are closed. This is most commonly seen in “thumb suckers”.
Often early treatment turns severe problems that might require future jaw surgery into a more moderate conditions that can be treated with braces or orthodontics alone.
We look for issues like abnormal jaw growth or jaws that are not in proportion to each other, as well as severely protruding teeth, the presence of deleterious thumb, finger or tongue habits, and clefts.
When is Phase I treatment started?
Phase I early treatment typically begins between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children have an orthodontic evaluation by 7 years of age. Having an early consultation is the best way to ensure that your child’s growth and dental development stays on the proper track.
What is Phase II orthodontic treatment?
Phase I usually does not correct all final tooth and bite-related problems, therefore a second set of braces is needed to finish aligning the teeth and bite once your child’s mouth is closer to being fully developed. This is called Phase II (Phase Two). The process usually involves placing braces on both the upper and lower teeth, and it’s started once all the adult (‘permanent’) teeth have erupted (which is usually around the age of 12.)
When Phase I treatment has been successfully completed, this second orthodontic treatment phase will be reduced significantly, reflecting the benefit of the Phase I early correction. The time period for the second treatment is usually around 12 to 18 months.
Phase II braces can be completed with either Invisalign clear aligners or traditional braces. Our experienced orthodontists will recommend which option is best for your child and family’s needs.
What is comprehensive (‘full’) orthodontic treatment?
Full treatment (also called ‘comprehensive orthodontic treatment’) usually involves placing upper and lower braces on all the teeth. Sometimes other appliances or additional treatment aids may also be utilized, depending on a patient’s individual needs. Full orthodontic treatment usually begins when all (or most) of the adult teeth are present, making it possible for orthodontists to correct the fully developed bite and align all the adult teeth. Full treatment is for those that have not previously undergone Phase I nor Phase 2 therapies .
Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment
Full orthodontic treatment is about more than just having straight teeth. The benefits go beyond aesthetics; here are just a few:
- Feel good about the way your smile looks
- Help prevent tooth decay
- Allows you to clean teeth easier
- Prevents abnormal tooth wear
- Reduces risk of gum disease
- Less stress on the bone structure and gum tissue
- Less likely to develop TMJ disorder from abnormal biting relationships
What is limited orthodontic treatment?
Limited orthodontics is a brief treatment that involves the movement of as little as one tooth. This phase uses either partial braces on some teeth or only the upper or lower teeth. The time frame can be anywhere from 3-9 months, but the average is six, as it’s problem-focused rather than comprehensive.
Accelerated orthodontics can be completed in preparation for other dental work like an implant or a bridge. It also works great for patients who have gone through ortho in the past but for whatever reason, some teeth have started to shift back. If just the appearance of the front teeth is the issue, limited orthodontics can be extremely useful. However, a thorough evaluation will be conducted first to ensure it is a practical option and in the best interest of your oral health.
Come See Our World Class Specialists
Whether your child needs a simple form of orthodontic treatment or has a more complex situation that requires our expertise, we can see to all her smile needs. Remember that early intervention can be a time (and money) saver for your family, so we encourage evaluations by age 7. Call and schedule your consultation today!