One of the most commonly asked questions is: When is the best time to begin orthodontic treatment? The answer to this question is as individual as the patient we are treating. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be seen by the age of 7. The reason for this recommendation is that by age 7, there are key developmental changes that should occur in your dental and facial structures.
These changes include, but are not limited to:
- The eruption of your upper and lower permanent first molars, which will establish the position of your bite and the width of your jaws.
- The eruption of your upper and lower permanent incisor teeth (front teeth), which will determine the arch length and width. The front teeth will also establish crowding, habits, deep bites, open bites and some facial asymmetries.
These are some of the facial and structural issues that we can address, and many times correct early on, to eliminate potentially more difficult orthodontic treatment later. The most important thing to remember is that most children will not need early treatment, but by bringing your child to Dr. Fotovat and Dr. Sands early, we can have their growth and development monitored by a professional and give you the peace of mind that you deserve.
Some of the problems that can be alleviated by early (Phase I) orthodontic treatment include:
- Promoting proper jaw growth
- Coordinating the upper and lower jaw width and position
- Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding upper front incisor teeth
- Correcting harmful oral habits (thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, etc.)
- Improving the patient’s self esteem
- Improving speech impediments
- Correcting facial asymmetries
- Reducing the risk of impacted teeth
- Preserving or gaining space for un-erupted teeth when primary teeth are lost early.
- Reducing or simplifying treatment time for later comprehensive orthodontic treatment
If your child needs early treatment (Phase I), the process is usually a short time-span ranging from 6 months to 18 months. After Phase I treatment is complete, a rest period, where Dr. Fotovat and Dr. Sands will remove the appliances and monitor the growth and development of the patient, will begin. Once the remainder of permanent teeth have erupted, the corrective Phase II portion of the orthodontic treatment can begin. This comprehensive orthodontic phase will address the alignment of all the permanent teeth.