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Early Treatment In Orthodontics
Early Treatment In Orthodontics

Early Treatment In Orthodontics

Most orthodontists have encountered anxious parents who are concerned about putting their young children through extensive oral treatment. “Isn’t eight years old too soon to wear braces? Will it affect my child’s development?” Early treatment can seem unnecessary when a child’s permanent teeth have not grown in, but orthodontists may utilize this option in order to correct dental problems before they become more serious.

Although healthy teeth can be straightened at any age, every case is different and your orthodontist will chose the best timing and the most efficient treatment plan that fits your need.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends parents to take their children for an orthodontic check-up at age seven. That is important because some orthodontic problems are easier to correct if found early. This doesn’t mean that all those children needing braces should start at that time.

Advantages of Early Treatment

Although it is better to wait to have all the permanent teeth present, nevertheless some dental anomalies may benefit from an early diagnosis and treatment.

Guiding permanent teeth into the proper position.

Preventing injuries to protruding teeth.

Regulating growth to improve the relationship between the upper and lower jaw.

Preventing future teeth extractions or orthognathic surgery (jaw correction).

Building self-esteem by improving physical appearance.

Stages involving Early Treatment

In cases of early orthodontic treatment, younger patients undergo two phases instead of one comprehensive stage. Phase I involves interceptive treatment in the mixed dentition (the period during which a child has both baby and permanent teeth). The objective of this phase is to “intercept” an orthodontic problem before it becomes more difficult to treat. In Phase II braces are used to facilitate optimal alignment of the teeth and bite. Occurring at around age 11, this phase of the treatment occurs when permanent teeth have developed and may range from 12 to 24 months.

The length of each phase is determined by your orthodontist. Phase II can immediately follow Phase I or commence after a maintenance stage lasting 12 to 24 months. A retainer is worn during the maintenance phase and the patient should be seen at least every six months.

Before moving forward with any treatment plan, your orthodontist will analyze your child’s dental growth and use photos, study models, and X-rays to understand the benefits and risks of proceeding with early interceptive methods. When a diagnosis is reached, the orthodontist can assist you in taking the right steps to improve your child’s oral health by choosing the best option for his or her specific situation.

Read next month’s article for information on “Orthodontic Retention.”

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