The Time is Right - Your Kid Needs Braces
At what age do I need to take my child to see the orthodontist? What are the options for braces for kids? What is two-phase ortho treatment?
These are questions we often get from parents, and we are here to provide the answers and explanations you need. Per the American Association of Orthodontists and our own insight, children should visit the orthodontist for an initial exam when they are about seven years old.
Benefits of Early Orthodontics
Early orthodontic exams help us to diagnose and start correcting alignment and bite issues early before they worsen or become more difficult to reverse. For example, say we observe a developed or potential overbite, underbite, open bite or crossbite.
Since we caught it while the jaw is still growing, we may be able to correct it with minimally invasive treatment instead of surgery like most adults with jaw issues will need.
Early exams are also helpful when we observe that there may not be room for all of the permanent teeth to come in properly. If we find this, then we can go ahead and develop a plan to make space for them to grow in straight and avoid having to extract teeth later.
At this time, we can also give you some recommendations for when to start the teeth straightening process if we think your child will need braces. Ultimately, early orthodontics is about simplifying and expediting treatment, so you and your child have less to worry about later in life.
How Do You Know if Your Child Needs Braces?
You can bring your child in for an exam with Sawgrass Orthodontics, of course! Just to give you an idea of what we’re looking for though, here are a few issues that could mean your child will need orthodontic treatment sooner rather than later.
- Speech impediments
- Protruding teeth
- Challenges with chewing
- Teeth don’t meet when smiling and chewing
- Early crowding of the teeth
- Harmful habits such as digit or thumb sucking, and tongue thrusting
- Impacted of missing permanent teeth
What Causes Some of These Issues?
Each individual child’s smile is unique with different orthodontic needs and causes of positioning, but these are a few key factors to look out for that may lead to alignment issues with the jaw and teeth:
- Losing baby teeth too early or late (the normal range for losing baby teeth and gaining permanent teeth is about 5 years old to 13 years old)
- Thumb sucking that continues past about 5 years old
- Hereditary positioning of the jaw or teeth
- Early injuries to the mouth
Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment
When a child’s smile is examined early, we are often able to develop a highly effective two-phase orthodontic treatment plan. The first phase often starts when the child is 8 or 9 years old, and the second phase begins when he or she is at least 11 years old. The doctors determine the best time to start treatment on an individual, case-by-case basis.
The first phase of treatment often uses an orthodontic appliance to help the patient’s jaws to form more simultaneously in the proper directions. This will help to not only put the jaws on the path to fitting together correctly and biting effectively, but also make room for the permanent teeth to emerge properly. This phase can last anywhere between 6-15 months.
The resting period exists to allow the remainder of permanent teeth to grow into the mouth in the space that was created for them during Phase One. During the resting period, the main thing your orthodontist will do is monitor your child’s smile as it develops.
The goal of the second phase of orthodontic treatment is to align the bite and teeth and get them into their final, prescribed positions. Phase two treatment usually consists of braces on the upper and lower teeth and can range between 12-30 months (with an average of 24 months), followed by a retainer when braces treatment is complete.
Find Out if Your Child Needs Braces
If your family dentist has suggested your child visit an orthodontist, we commend her or him! Even if you haven’t heard from someone that you need to take your child to the orthodontist, age seven is still a good rule of thumb.
After all, why wait to get started shaping the smile that will make your child most comfortable and confident throughout his or her life? Schedule a consultation with us today!