When it comes to orthodontic treatment, you most likely think of pre-teens and teenagers having metal braces and rubber bands. It is often regarded as a rite of passage for this age group. I doubt most parents would think of taking their child to an orthodontist before they can read! However, alongside technological advancements in this field, we now know that some orthodontic concerns are better addressed at a younger age.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children first see an orthodontist by the age of seven. At this age, teeth are still coming into the mouth and the jaw bones are more pliable. At Moravec Orthodontics, we like to see children for a screening consultation when they are in the first or second grade, or when the top two permanent teeth and the back six-year-old molars emerge.
There are several reasons to see an orthodontist even earlier. These include overcrowded baby teeth or an obvious misaligned bite. Because it can be difficult for a parent to tell if their child’s bite is off, a very common symptom to keep an eye out for is a tendency to bite the inside of their cheek. If you see these traits in your child, scheduling a proactive orthodontic evaluation may save time and money in future orthodontic treatment.
Once the first adult teeth have erupted, I am able to map out the future development of teeth and the bite through 3D imaging. This technology allows me to diagnose problems that may otherwise be overlooked. The most common surprise is finding missing or extra permanent teeth. With this information, starting preventative treatment earlier is key.
It’s important to note that coming in for an initial consultation for your child does not mean that we will start orthodontic treatment. Rather, we will take and assess photographs and 3D images to better understand how the teeth and jaws are developing. It is most likely that we will then place your son or daughter on a six- to twelve-month recall program to observe how teeth are coming in and if potential bite issues are arising.
If I recommend a first-phase orthodontic treatment it would most likely be needed to widen the upper jaw, hold space for adult teeth or correct severe crowding that prevents adult teeth from coming in. This treatment typically lasts less than a year with evaluation for future treatment in the preteen or teen years to follow. At Moravec Orthodontics, about 25 percent of these younger patients that we see for a first consultation begin first-phase treatment.
It’s a helpful reminder for all the parents out there that baby teeth are the foundation for the adult teeth waiting to emerge. This is why an early consultation with an orthodontist is so important. The more proactive we are at an early age, the better outcome your child will have with their future smile.
We are firm believers in early treatment at Moravec Orthodontics which is why our initial consultations are always complimentary. If you are interested in learning more about an early consultation for your child, grab a copy of my book, Going the Extra Smile: Merging Technology and Expertise for a Lifetime of Smiles.