Did you know the American Academy of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends children to be evaluated by an Orthodontist by the age of 7? Timing is everything.
Timing is everything – even when it comes to your child’s orthodontic treatment. “Early” treatment, also called “interceptive” treatment, is performed while some baby teeth are still present.
The AAO recommends that your child’s first check-up with an orthodontist is done when an orthodontic problem is first recognized. We want this exam performed no later than age 7. Why age 7? By then, your child has enough permanent teeth for an orthodontist to evaluate the developing teeth and the jaws. This provides a wealth of information. AAO orthodontists are trained to spot subtle problems even in young children. Again, timing is everything.
There are generally two outcomes of an initial check-up:
- No treatment is necessary now. Or treatment may be needed in the future. The child can be followed periodically by the orthodontist. The orthodontist will monitors while the face and jaws continue to grow. This is approximately 90% of the patients evaluated in our office.
- There is a problem that recommends early treatment. This is approximately 10% of the patients evaluated in our office.
While there are many orthodontic problems that orthodontists agree are best treated after all permanent teeth have come in, early treatment can be in a patient’s best interests if their problem is one that could become more serious over time if left untreated. The goals of early treatment are: intercept the developing problem, eliminate the cause, guide the growth of facial and jaw bones, and provide adequate space for incoming permanent teeth. A patient may require a second course of treatment after all permanent teeth have come in. This helps to move those teeth into their best positions. Timing is everything, but it is never too late.
The types of problems orthodontists may recommend treatment for while a child still has some baby teeth include:
- Underbites – when the lower front teeth are ahead of the upper front teeth
- Crossbites – when the jaw shifts to one side, or the top is too narrow for the bottom
- Openbites – when the top jaws and bottom jaws are open in the front, making the tongue visible
- Very crowded teeth
- Excessively spaced teeth
- Extra or missing teeth
- Teeth that meet abnormally, or don’t meet at all
- Thumb-, finger-, or pacifier- sucking that is affecting the teeth or jaw growth
Some of these orthodontic problems are inherited, while others may result from accidents, dental disease, habits, or abnormal swallowing.
Treatment forms for early orthodontic treatment:
- Fixed or removable “appliance” – a device used to move teeth, change the position of the jaw, or hold teeth in place in order to bring about desirable changes. An example of this is an orthodontic expander.
- Braces – to help with cosmetic alignment of the front teeth
- Removal of baby teeth – may help the permanent teeth erupt better. The extractions will be timed to take best advantage of a patient’s growth and development.
Regardless of how treatment goals are reached, the bottom line is that some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they are found and treated early. Waiting until all the permanent teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may make correction of some problems more difficult. Timing is everything.
Why choose an AAO orthodontist?
To give your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile, visit an AAO orthodontist. No referrals neecessary! Most AAO orthodontists provide an initial consultation at no cost and with no obligation. Your orthodontist can alert you to potential problems and recommend treatment when it is most appropriate for your child. Remember, timing is everything.
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is open exclusively to orthodontists. Only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can title themselves “orthodontists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.
When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. The doctors possess the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Timing is everything so contact us today so we can help your child!