A person’s permanent teeth typically begin to come in around the early ages of six or seven. At this point, any orthodontic problems that may cause problems in the future become apparent. Because of this, the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that all children receive an orthodontic screening by the age of seven.
This is the ideal time for such an evaluation because at this age, a child’s bones are still growing and a determination can be made regarding whether orthodontic treatment is needed either then or may be needed in the future. If orthodontic care is needed, it’s much easier to assess and treat problems while the child is developing as opposed to when the person is full grown. This is due to the fact that their bones are not fully developed and are much easier to correct.
Why Interceptive Orthodontics
This early examination and treatment is called interceptive orthodontics and often begins when the child is six or seven. At this point, the child’s teeth are still developing and the jaw is still growing which means that certain conditions like crowding are much easier to address.
By addressing these problems before the permanent teeth come in, the teeth that are beginning to come in may be able to erupt into better positions as they emerge through the gums. It’s quite common for the dental arch to be too small to fit all teeth. While in the past teeth would need to be extracted to solve such a problem, now braces can fix it.
Advantages of Interceptive Orthodontics
There’s a big advantage in early treatment in that the jaw is still growing. A device called a palatal expander can be used that will expand the child’s upper dental arch. This is key because having the arch the proper size allows for a better chance that adult teeth will emerge in a better position.
The palatal expander is particularly useful for patients whose dental arches and jaws are not in the correct position. Usually, more treatment will be needed later on using functional appliances that have the ability to fix or improve the problem but these treatments will be shorter and less involved if the arch has been fixed as a child.
When additional treatment is needed, such as braces or other orthodontic appliances, following the child receiving interceptive orthodontic treatment, as is usually the case, it’s commonly referred to as a two-phase treatment. By having early treatment prior to braces or other appliances, the future treatment may be shortened or simplified in selected cases.
There are two main conditions where early intervention may be required; cross bite and protruding front teeth. A cross bite can cause the jaw to grow unevenly making the necessary adjustments much easier since the jaw is still developing. Having teeth that stick out fixed at an early age is also preferable to later because they are in potential danger. They could easily be fractured or injured in an accident such as a fall.
Manufacturers’ Notice of Early Treatment
Manufacturers of orthodontic equipment have noticed the recommendations of early treatment for certain conditions and have amended their supply accordingly. While braces are typically a silver color, manufacturers offer elastic bands in many different bright colors. Allowing the patients to choose which colors they want to wear allows them to feel as though they’re a part of the orthodontic process and makes braces more acceptable for children. They choose their favorite colors, school colors, the colors of their favorite sports team, or choose colors based on holidays.
While they may still need braces or some other form of orthodontic appliance, early orthodontic treatment is recommended by the American Association of Orthodontics as it helps the child’s dental health going forward. As with any part of the body, this is because, while their permanent teeth are coming in, the child’s mouth and jaw is still developing around the ages of six and seven. That’s why it’s important that, by the age of seven, children have an orthodontic examination. This will allow any treatment that may be needed to begin. If your child needs an orthodontic examination of any type of orthodontic care, come to Melbourne Orthodontics.