If you're wondering when you should thin about bringing your kids to see an orthodontist, you're not alone. Our Okotoks orthodontist has some advice for parents about signs to watch for, and how early orthodontic treatment can help children's health.
When should kids begin orthodontic treatment?
Concerned parents sometimes ask us for advice about when to bring their kids in to see an orthodontist. This may be because they anticipate orthodontic issues arising for their children due to hereditary factors, or because they are seeing symptoms that concern them.
Our reply is that every child is unique in terms of age, development, treatment requirements and other factors. The specific orthodontic issue (for example, misalignment of bite and teeth) and its severity will determine when a child should begin orthodontic treatment.
Until recently, children wouldn't typically be seen by an orthodontist until they'd reach their adolescent years - 12 to 14 years old - once permanent teeth had emerged. However, this strategy often meant extractions were needed to leave space for other teeth to shift as they need to during treatment.
Today, orthodontists have changed how they approach treatment. Orthodontists have begun to use interception orthodontics to start treating children anywhere from 7 to 11 years old. This way, orthodontic issues can be corrected before they fully develop. They can potentially keep more of their permanent teeth. Early interception treatment can also positively impact on a child's oral health.
With interceptive orthodontics for children, orthodontic appliances (not strictly braces) can be used while a child still has his or her baby teeth. Once the child’s adult teeth erupt, we can begin a second phase of orthodontic treatment.
What are early signs of orthodontic issues?
With interceptive orthodontic treatment, we can treat misalignment issues before they develop into larger problems. This can also benefit children’s health. Treatable issues include:
- Protrusion of front teeth
- Misaligned teeth
- Overly crowded teeth (one or both jaws would need to be expanded)
- Early removal of specific baby teeth to encourage permanent teeth to emerge correctly
- Maintaining space for permanent teeth to come in after premature loss of baby tooth
- Extreme tongue thrust habits
What advantages does interceptive treatment offer?
Early interceptive orthodontic treatment may have any of the following benefits:
- Crowded teeth have room to emerge
- Risk of trauma as a result of protruding front teeth is reduced
- Decreasing need for tooth extraction
- Reducing treatment length
- Reduced need for more extensive treatment later in life
Our orthodontist at Foothills Orthodontics can examine your child’s teeth to find out whether your child is a candidate for interceptive orthodontics. Treatment options will depend on your child’s needs and may include braces, a retainer, an appliance, or some combination of these.
If your child can benefit from an orthodontic intervention, we will explain how treatment can positively impact your child’s development, then explain treatment options and answer any questions you may have.