You may see some young children in orthodontic treatment and wonder why some are starting treatment at such a young age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children be seen by an orthodontist by the age of 7. At this age we can assess many situations that would be beneficial and easier to treat at a young age.
An orthodontic examination early in life can reveal conditions such as skeletal discrepancies (narrow or small upper jaw), crossbites, underbites and severe overbites, deep bites that traumatize the roof of the mouth, severe crowding, and bites that are causing excessive tooth wear or trauma.
Each of these scenarios should be treated at an early age before all of child’s baby teeth fall out. Orthodontic treatment performed at this early age (Phase 1 Treatment) is the first phase of two phase orthodontic treatment. During the first phase, the primary orthodontic issue is addressed, generally in approximately 12 months. For example, for some cases a child may wear braces for 1 year, then have them removed. While this does not complete treatment for life, it improves the patient’s orthodontic condition, and sets the stage for healthier development that will be more easily treated during teenage years.
Following Phase 1 Treatment, the child’s growth and development is monitored as he or she grows. Once all of the adult teeth have erupted, the need for a second phase of treatment (Phase 2) will be assessed. In Phase 2 Treatment, the goal will be to align the teeth and idealize the bite. If the adult teeth have erupted in an optimal position naturally following Phase 1, a Phase 2 will not be needed.
We recommend early orthodontic evaluations for children around age 7, this is emphasized greatly for parents who observe irregular development or alignment of their children’s. Please contact our office if you have questions about Two Phase Orthodontic Treatment, or to request and early orthodontic evaluation.