Some children and pre-teens can benefit from early treatment.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children at around age 7 have an initial orthodontic evaluation to verify that teeth and jaws and developing properly.
In the event children have some discrepancy, an early treatment plan can be developed that in many instances can change the course of growth or tooth eruption preventing future problems and or jaw discrepancies.
What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?
Early evaluation allows Dr. Patino to make sure growth and development of the teeth and jaws are properly occurring. Early evaluation also allows us evaluate environmental factors that can cause problems including habits: lip wedging, thumb sucking. missing permanent teeth, loss of space or need for space maintenance.
Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?
By age 7, the first permanent molars and permanent incisors have erupted establishing the child’s “bite”. At this time, Dr. Patino can evaluate overbite, overjet, crowding, spacing, jaw positions, midlines, teeth positions, and other dental and skeletal relationships. Prior to age 7, there are not enough permanent teeth erupted to perform a thorough analysis due to the fact it is too early to make heads or tails as to the jaw.
What are the advantages of Early Treatment?
Advantages of early treatment allow Dr. Patino to alter or change the path of pre-programmed growth and tooth eruption. For children that present with dental or jaw problems caused by habits like thumb sucking or lip wedging, early intervention is imperative. Some children with early malocclusions will irreversibly wear down permanent teeth, which cannot be repaired without undergoing future costly cosmetic dental procedures. Early treatment can prevent this from happening.
Children that need interceptive orthodontic treatment due to skeletal discrepancies, such as narrow jaws or short or long jaws, need to begin treatment prior to the end of the growth spurt. Timing is very important as to not miss this window of opportunity. After accelerated growth has ended, many skeletal changes cannot be performed. Also, as children get older, it becomes more difficult in some cases to get proper compliance.
Does every child need Phase I treatment?
No. Only certain children will benefit from early orthodontic intervention. Most children do not need any early orthodontic treatment but the only way to determine this is to have an orthodontic evaluation.
How long does early intervention treatment take?
Early intervention treatment (Phase I treatment) can take between 6 -16 months depending on the type of problems diagnosed and the amount of needed treatment to correct them.
If my child has early intervention treatment (Phase I), will additional orthodontic treatment be necessary?
Most of the time some additional orthodontic treatment will be necessary to align the remaining permanent teeth that grow in later (age 11–12). In some cases Phase I treatment is the only orthodontic treatment needed.