Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children

What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment, and why might my child need early treatment? How will early treatment benefit my child in the long-run?

The Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age seven. At this point we can evaluate whether your little one might need orthodontic treatment.

Early treatment (also known as Phase-One) typically begins around age eight or nine. Phase-Two can begin around age 11 or older. The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as an underbite or a crossbite. Early treatment helps to make room for permanent teeth and may lessen the need for extractions in the future.

How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all his or her permanent teeth around age 13)
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Your little one continues sucking a thumb after age five
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
  • Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner or even at all
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes the mouth (crossbites)
  • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight

What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early prevention benefit my youngster?

Orthodontic problems (malocclusions) such as crowding, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, and protruding teeth can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, thumb-sucking habits, or chronic mouth breathing.

Most children will have lost all of their baby teeth by age 13. By the end of their teen years, typically the jaw will have stopped growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults may take more time and involve tooth extraction or oral surgery which may have been avoided had they udergone treatment when they were younger.

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or you have been directed by your family dentist to visit us, please contact our practice and schedule an initial appointment. Dr. White and our team will discuss the best steps to take toward caring for your son or daughter’s smile.



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