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Why is Early Treatment Important?

Why is Early Treatment Important?

Phase One

Phase One treatment is conducted when some of the baby teeth are still present. [Phase One treatment usually last between 6 – 12 months]

Research has shown that serious orthodontic problems can be more easily corrected when the patient’s skeleton is still growing and flexible. The orthodontist can prepare the mouth for the eventual eruption of the permanent teeth by correcting the skeletal problems at a younger age. If the permanent teeth have adequate space to erupt, the possibility of avoiding tooth extraction to accomplish orthodontic therapy and the ultimate stability of orthodontic treatment is increased.

Early treatment (Phase One) usually begins around the age of 8 or 9. Children between these ages are usually more cooperative than children between the ages of 12 and 14. Nearly 55% of children needing orthodontic treatment have underdeveloped or over developed jaws. The goal of early treatment is to correct these bite problems, taking advantage of anticipated “growth spurts” of the jaw, and to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly. This lessens the chance of permanent tooth extraction or other surgical procedures later. As a patient matures, bone density increases and some procedures, which can be completed at a young age, are no longer options.

What are Some of the Signs My Child Needs Early Treatment?

Some indications that your child is a candidate for early treatment are:

  • Speech Impediments
  • Excessive Protrusion – when upper teeth exhibit excess protrusion there is the concern for the child’s self image, and the possibility of chipping or fracture of the anterior teeth
  • Thumb sucking which continues past the age of 5
  • Mouth breathing
  • An anterior cross bite - when biting, the lower teeth appear in front of the upper teeth
  • A posterior cross bite – when opening or closing their mouth your child’s jaw appears to shift to one side and the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth – typically a child starts losing teeth around six (6) years of age
  • Delayed eruption of permanent teeth – typically a child starts getting permanent teeth around age of six (6) and has twenty-four (24) permanent teeth by age of thirteen (13)
  • Crowded teeth or large spaces between front teeth which becomes noticeable when the permanent teeth replace the primary teeth about 7 or 8 years of age

Will My Child Need Further Treatment?

Phase Two

Phase Two treatment is performed to finalize the position of the permanent teeth and complete the detailing of the bite. [Phase II treatment may take between 18 – 36 months]

Although the objective of Phase One is to complete correction of jaw growth problems, bad bites, and protruding teeth, it is not always the only treatment your child will need. Phase Two completes the process of aligning all of the teeth, allowing them to function correctly. The second molar teeth do not erupt until about 11 - 13 years of age; therefore Phase Two orthodontic treatment is usually started between the ages of 11 - 13. During this phase teeth are positioned to ensure proper fit of the upper teeth to the lower teeth (occlusion) and proper bone support so that it is easy to maintain your teeth and smile for a lifetime.

My Child Says He or She Does Not Want Braces

Although we have heard this on occasion, our experience has shown that once orthodontic treatment is completed the patient is excited that they have had their smile refined. Adolescence is an awkward time for our youth, transitioning from the sheltered elementary school to middle school and all the changes associated make them very self conscious. This time in their development is optimal for treatment – treatment can be designed around known growth and development research to accomplish changes more efficiently.

As orthodontic treatment progresses you may notice an increased self confidence as crowded and crooked teeth are aligned and their smile increases. This boost in self confidence usually has a positive impact on social and professional opportunities throughout life. Rest assured they will not be the only child in their class with braces; they may even share some of their experiences with classmates when they are in the office for orthodontic adjustments.

What If We Decide to Wait and Have Braces Later in Life?

It is never too late to begin comprehensive orthodontic therapy; however, treatment at an older age can require a different approach. As a patient matures bone density increases and some procedures which are more easily completed at a young age are no longer an option or may require more invasive, possibly surgical procedures, with extended treatment plans in older patients. While the treatment may include more challenges, it is no impossible. Orthodontics can improve our smile at any age.