Orthodontic treatment can begin at any age, but parents can help their children avoid long-term issues and more complex care by starting the process early on. At Grand Dental – Channahon, we can perform a Phase 1 orthodontic consultation around your child’s seventh birthday. Our in-house orthodontist can identify potential developmental problems in the teeth and jaws that can be corrected with Phase 1 orthodontic treatment in order to avoid more complex issues later. Contact us today if your child is around the right age for their first orthodontic treatment.
At the age of 7, there will be a mix of baby teeth and permanent teeth in the mouth. At this point, an orthodontist can look for potential orthodontic issues, such as a problem with the way the jaw is growing or a misaligned bite. Early intervention can help correct these issues before they become more complex. The age of 7 is considered by many experts – including the American Association of Orthodontics – to be the best time for an initial orthodontic appointment so that problems can be caught early in development.
There are several symptoms that parents might catch on their own that indicate early orthodontic care is needed, including crooked or overcrowded teeth, noticeable gaps, protruding teeth, a visibly misaligned jaw, a speech impediment, and repeated breathing difficulties. Other symptoms can only be caught by a trained specialist, hence the need for an orthodontic consultation. General dentists and pediatric dentists can also catch signs that early orthodontic care might be needed.
A Phase 1 orthodontic treatment can consist of a variety of orthodontic appliances. One common example is an expander, which can widen the upper jaw or palate in order to create more room for the permanent teeth to eventually erupt. Another appliance that many children need is a space maintainer to prevent the other teeth from drifting into a gap left by a baby tooth that fell out earlier than it was supposed to. In some cases, braces may be used for Phase 1 treatment, although they are usually only worn for a relatively short time compared to a full orthodontic treatment.
The timeline for Phase 1 treatment is usually around 10 to 14 months depending on what changes are needed. We will continue to keep track of the way your child’s mouth develops, and we may recommend Phase II orthodontics around age 11 after most of the permanent teeth have come in if there are still issues that need to be addressed.