In the past, orthodontics was routinely an early teen event that began once all of the baby teeth were lost and permanent teeth have erupted. Recent advances in the understanding of a child development as well as modern materials have re-evaluated the time for orthodontic treatment to an earlier age.
Early orthodontic evaluation provides both timely diagnosis of problems and increased opportunity for more effective treatment. Early intervention gives the ability to guide growth and development, preventing more serious issues later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.
Generally, orthodontic treatment does not begin at age 7, but it is good to get a head start. However, early orthodontic treatment may be necessary before 7 if the following signs appear:
– Speech problems
– Breaking habits of thumb sucking and teeth grinding
– Difficulty in effectively chewing
– Abnormal bite development
– Clicking or popping in the jaw joint
– Permanent teeth that are erupting into the mouth crowded or overlapping
– Issues cheek biting or biting into the palate
It is important to remember, orthodontics is not strictly a cosmetic endeavour, and bite alignment is the ultimate goal. The issues presented above can all be corrected fairly easily if done in a phased approach by:
– Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
– Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
– Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
– Preserving space for teeth that are coming in
– Reducing the need for tooth removal