At Wedding Orthodontics, we know that your child’s health is your first priority. With so many things to cover, however, making sure you’re taking care of your child’s orthodontic care can feel intimidating. But don’t worry – that’s what we’re here for! Keep reading below to learn why your child should see an orthodontist by age 7!
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that your child see an orthodontist by age seven. They may or may not need early intervention, but this initial checkup can tell us a lot about your child’s jaw development and what treatments they’ll need in the future.
If you’re wondering why your child should see an orthodontist by age seven, keep reading!
Orthodontic Treatment for Kids
Not all patients require early intervention, but for those who do, the early treatment allows Dr. Wedding and Dr. Thompson to give your child a head start in caring for complex issues that could worsen with age. This treatment enables our doctors to tackle issues with a systematic approach. This slow and steady approach treats developing issues and gives your child a long-term smile they’ll be proud of.
Phase I Treatment: Phase I treatment works best when your child’s baby teeth are still present. During this first round, our goal is to create space to enable all permanent teeth to erupt or correct any functional issues that could be occurring. If your child requires phase I treatment, our Wedding Orthodontics team will design a unique treatment plan tailor-made to meet their needs. Treatment options may include an expander, limited braces, or even Invisalign to treat a range of bite issues.
For most patients, phase I treatment lasts between six and twelve months. However, this timeline varies from patient to patient, depending on their unique needs.
Retention: After phase one treatment is complete, your child will enter a rest phase called retention. They’ll wear a retainer to keep their teeth in position. This resting period gives your child’s permanent teeth the chance to come into the space that has been created by the phase I treatment. They’ll also meet with Dr. Wedding or Dr. Thompson every six to twelve months so that our team can monitor their progress to determine whether phase II treatment will be necessary.
Phase II Treatment: Now that both Phase I and the retention phase are complete, you should already see progress in your child’s smile. Phase II treatment looks much more like the traditional treatment you see during the teenage years. Dr. Wedding and Dr. Thompson offer most patients the option of traditional braces or Invisalign comprehensive treatment. This process helps fine-tune your child’s smile, giving them results that will last a lifetime.
What If My Child Doesn’t Need Two-Phase Treatment?
Many children don’t require early intervention, so what does their treatment path look like? If you bring your child in for their first checkup and Dr. Wedding or Dr. Thompson opts against two-phase treatment, the next step is to continue monitoring their jaw growth and development.
At Wedding Orthodontics, we offer periodic tracking completely free of charge. That means you can bring your child in for the occasional checkup without any obligation to you, so we’ll know the best time for them to start treatment.
Reasons Your Child Needs to Visit an Orthodontist
When Dr. Wedding and Dr. Thompson assess your child’s orthodontic condition at their first appointment, there are several different reasons they might recommend early treatment. Your child might benefit from an early start if we recognize the following conditions at their initial appointment.
Tooth Eruption/Tooth Loss: It’s easy to underestimate the importance of baby teeth, but as the placeholders for our permanent teeth, they matter more than you might think. Since they tend to fall out in a fairly specific order, any significant deviation from this pattern could signify there are developmental issues that may need attention.
By age 7, children should also have at least four permanent molars and two to four permanent incisors. If there are more or less than these present, it could indicate a problem with missing, crowding, or extra teeth. Sometimes removing a primary tooth early or maintaining a space where a tooth has been lost prematurely can prevent bigger problems later.
Spacing or Crowding: By the time a child is ready for their first orthodontic evaluation, it will be possible to tell if they currently have or may develop excessive crowding or spacing issues. Spacing issues can arise over a tooth lost prematurely, one that never developed, teeth that are too small, or those spaced far apart. Crowding could require expanding the arches or removing teeth to improve the situation.
Crooked Teeth: Correcting crooked teeth earlier can improve a child’s oral health and help them avoid the above issues. While we can align teeth at almost any age, doing so at a younger age can make for an easier and more effective treatment process. Crooked teeth are more susceptible to wear and tear, and over time, the shape and position of the surrounding gum tissue can be compromised.
Underbite: When a child has an underbite, we need to determine whether the malocclusion is caused by problems with the eruption of the teeth or by the relationship of the jaws. As with an overbite, we’ll sometimes need to wait until the patient has finished growing to begin comprehensive treatment.
However, earlier measures can be taken to help avoid damage to the front teeth and encourage skeletal correction. Underbite patients who receive treatment between the ages of about seven to ten tend to be less likely to need corrective jaw surgery when they are older.
Overbite/Protruding Teeth: Teeth that protrude are generally evident in early childhood. These are often seen as a cosmetic concern, but the effects of an overbite pattern go beyond the appearance of the teeth. Children may experience pain in the jaw and excessive tooth wear, and they can even have trouble with normal speech patterns.
We’ll usually need to wait until a child’s mouth has matured before attempting to correct an overbite. However, several treatment options still exist for reducing the risk of pain and traumatic injury as they grow. These corrective measures can also improve a child’s confidence in their smile!
Your Child’s Free Consultation
When you bring your child in for their first orthodontic appointment, our Wedding Orthodontics team will spend time getting them used to the orthodontic office so they’ll feel comfortable in our Owensboro office. Then we’ll assess their unique condition and needs. Early intervention helps Dr. Wedding and Dr. Thompson:
- Improve your child’s overall health
- Correct bad habits like thumb-sucking
- Guide your child’s jaw growth
- Lower the risk of trauma
Set Your Child Up for Success at Wedding Orthodontics
At Wedding Orthodontics, we’ll give your child the rockstar treatment they deserve, so you can trust they’re in good hands. Whether or not they need two-phase treatment, Dr. Wedding and Dr. Thompson have the experience to provide the quality treatment that they would want for their own children. If your child is seven or older and hasn’t seen an orthodontist yet, schedule their free consultation at our office in Owensboro today!