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Early Orthodontic Treatment

At what age should a child first visit the Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that most children should have an orthodontic screening by age 7. This allows Dr. Raj to determine if orthodontic treatment will be required, and the best time for the patient to be treated. While the vast majority of children do not need treatment at this age, it is very important to screen and intercept any developing problems early. 

Why are children being evaluated at such an early age?

Early diagnosis and treatment can help guide erupting teeth into a more favorable position, preserve space for permanent teeth, minimize unfavorable jaw growth, and reduce the likelihood of fracturing  front teeth that stick out. In some cases, a first phase of treatment can simplify later treatment after all the permanent teeth erupt.

Does early treatment benefit all children?

Phase I or Early treatment will not benefit all children. Certain types of orthodontic problems need to be addressed early, whereas others are more efficiently corrected in the teen years when all the permanent teeth have erupted. Some skeletal orthodontic problems should not be addressed until growth is completed. The doctor will develop a plan for treatment based on each individual child’s needs. If the doctor decides the patient is not ready for Phase I treatment, they are placed on our orthodontic supervisory program for annual recall and observation.

What is the Orthodontic Supervisory Program?

The orthodontic supervisory program is for patients who are not ready for treatment yet, and have been placed on recall. This program enables us to monitor the eruption of the permanent teeth and the development of the jaws.  We will notify your general dentist of any recommendations made during your visit. We normally see patients on recall every 9-12 months to observe their progress. There is no fee for this program, and it helps the orthodontist determine the optimum time to begin treatment and achieve the best possible result for your child.

In addition to a beautiful new smile, what are some other benefits of orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment can improve the ability to keep the teeth and gums healthy, minimize tooth wear and allow for an optimally functioning bite. The confidence that comes with straight teeth and a beautiful smile cannot be overstated. 

If a child has treatment early, will this prevent the need for orthodontic treatment as an adolescent?

Early treatment can intercept developing problems and prevent the onset of more severe conditions, thus simplifying future treatment. Because all of the permanent teeth have not yet erupted when early treatment is performed, a second phase of treatment is typically required. Phase II or Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment involves alignment and bite correction after all the permanent teeth have erupted, and is usually started at around the age of 12 or so.

Do we still need to see our Dentist during Orthodontic Treatment?

Patients with  orthodontic appliances require more effort to keep their teeth and gums clean. Because we want to ensure the highest level of dental health, we highly recommend you see your family dentist for regular check-ups, X-rays and cleanings every 6 months during treatment.  If you do not have a Dentist, please ask us for some recommendations.