Children’s Orthodontic TreatmentBy Sarah T. Potter, DMD
Choosing the Time to Make an Appointment
Many parents wonder when the best time is to seek children’s orthodontic treatment. While it may not seem like a dental emergency, bad bites, also known as malocclusions, can begin to develop at 2 to 3 years of age, but typically, children should be examined by a dentist or orthodontist at age 7 to identify possible future problems. This is the age when your child’s first teeth start to come in, although children 11 to 15 years of age are the most responsive to children’s orthodontic treatment. However, this early check-up can evaluate cross-bites, crowding, and the development of dental protrusions. There are three stages in which your child can receive treatment from an orthodontist.
Some signs that your child may need early orthodontic treatment are:
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Crowding or misplaced teeth
- Jaws that shift or make sound
- Difficulty biting
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
This stage is called early treatment and includes children that are treated between 2 and 6 years of age. Early treatment is primarily concerned with regulating the width of upper and lower dental arches, guiding permanent teeth into the correct position, and correcting harmful habits like thumb sucking. in general, early treatment can be very effective and sometimes eliminate the need for orthodontic treatment later on.
This second stage is called middle dentition and deals with children ages 6 to 12. Often, a child’s permanent teeth do not come in straight, so they need to be aligned properly. This stage is also concerned with realigning the jaw in the incidence of cross bites. Stage two is a good time to start treatment because it is the phase in which a child’s hard and soft tissues are easily molded by orthodontic treatment.
Stage three, or adolescent dentition, starts at 13 years of age and goes throughout the teenage years. It is concerned with permanent teeth alignment and the appearance of your child’s smile.