The Right Time for an Orthodontic Check-Up: No Later than Age 7
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children get a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. At this point the orthodontist will evaluate your child and may recommend early interceptive orthodontic treatment (also known as Phase I) for the child. This phase will be undertaken with the clear understanding that a Phase II will follow when the child has matured after loss of all primary teeth. However, in some cases, Dr. Mason may find that patients who successfully completed Phase I treatment no longer require Phase II treatment. If your child is older than 7, it’s certainly not too late for a check-up.
What Can A Screening Examination Reveal On A Young Child?
Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present.
While your child’s teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem that only an orthodontist can detect by examining your child’s radiograph.
A check-up may reveal that your child’s bite is fine. Or, the orthodontist may identify a developing problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then, if indicated, begin treatment at the appropriate time for the child. In other cases, the orthodontist might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment.
Early treatment may prevent or intercept more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
Early Treatment May Give Your Orthodontist The Chance To:
Guide jaw growth.
Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth.
Correct harmful oral habits.
Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position.
Create a more pleasing arrangement of teeth, lips and face.
May reduce the need for future extractions of adult teeth.
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 permanent teeth around age 13.)
Difficulty chewing and/or biting.
Your child continues sucking his or her thumb after age five.
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 his or her mouth. (crossbites)
Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight.
Patient presented with bilateral posterior crossbite(narrow maxilla) and underbite. Crossbite and underbite correction performed during phase I. Patient’s profile improved post treatment.
Patient presented with an underbite and trauma to lower front teeth and gingival recessions. Underbite correction was performed during phase I. Gingival recession improved.
Open Bite Case
Patient presented with an open bite due to thumb sucking habit. Sucking habit was stopped and bite was closed during phase I treatment. After patient lost all of primary (baby) teeth, patient was evaluated for 2nd phase. Parents chose not to pursue 2nd phase of treatment as they were happy with the phase I results.
Early Loss Case
Patient presented with early loss of primary tooth #c and impaction of adult tooth #6. During phase I treatment, space was created for tooth #6 and tooth erupted without damaging neighboring teeth.