Early Orthodontic Treatment
Also referred to as Phase I or interceptive orthodontics, early treatment is sometimes recommended for children around the age of seven to eight. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends an initial orthodontic exam for your child at the age of seven. This type of treatment can help address severe bite issues, improve jawbone growth, and create space for the eruption of permanent teeth. While most children do not need early treatment, it is extremely beneficial for those who do. At Barrett Family Orthodontics, we can perform a full orthodontic evaluation and let you know if Phase I treatment could help your child.
Why Early Treatment is Beneficial
During phase I orthodontics, the bones of the face and jaw are still growing. Therefore, certain orthodontic issues can be corrected in a much less invasive way. If we wait until adulthood to address these same problems, they often require extensive treatment and possible oral surgery. By treating these issues at an early age, we can minimize the need for invasive procedures and assist with proper growth and development.
How Can I Tell if My Child Needs Early Treatment?
The only way to know this answer for sure is to schedule an orthodontic consultation. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, children should have their first orthodontic visit around the age of seven. At this point of growth and development, Dr. Barrett can determine whether early treatment is necessary.
There are, however, some warning signs that may indicate your child needs early orthodontics. These include:
- Early or late loss of primary teeth
- Chronic mouth breathing
- Difficulty biting or chewing
- Speech problems
- Prolonged thumb-sucking
- Prolonged bottle or pacifier use
- Teeth that do not come together when in a closed position
- Shifting of the jaw when opening or closing
- Crowded or overlapped front teeth
- Protruding front teeth
What Causes Early Orthodontic Problems?
There are several factors that contribute to orthodontic issues. While trauma, behaviors, and habits can all cause these problems, they are oftentimes the result of genetics.
What to Expect during Treatment
If Dr. Barrett determines that your child needs early treatment, he will design a custom treatment plan. Most of the time, this consists of partial braces. Depending on your child’s oral anatomy, we may also use palatal expanders, retainers, or space maintainers. The complexity of your child’s treatment depends on the severity of his or her orthodontic issues. Most of the time, Phase I treatment takes about 9 to 18 months to complete.
Once your child has successfully completed Phase I, he or she will wear a retainer until all permanent teeth have erupted. During this time, we will monitor his or her progress every approximately six months. If Phase II treatment is necessary, we will begin when your child is around the age of 12 or when all adult teeth have erupted.
Schedule a Consultation Today
If your child is around the age of seven – and he or she hasn’t had an orthodontic assessment yet – schedule an appointment at Barrett Family Orthodontics. We can determine if Phase I treatment is necessary for your child, and design a personalized treatment plan to meet his or her needs. Call us at one of our office locations or contact us online anytime.