Orthodontic evaluation and treatment for children is vitally important to their future oral health. The Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit the orthodontist for the first time no later than at the age of 7.
This recommendation often surprises parents; they wonder what the point of orthodontics is at so early an age, when most children still have their baby teeth.
Those teeth are just going to fall out, so does it really matter if they’re a bit crooked? Why not just wait to see if there are problems with the permanent teeth? For many parents, in other words, it seems like jumping the gun.
The fact is, though, that some orthodontic problems can be evaluated and potentially curtailed, even at this early age.
Around the age of 7, the first permanent molars and incisors have usually come in, making it possible for the orthodontist to evaluate potential crowding, or other issues.
If these problems are caught early on, they can be monitored and even treated, which can potentially help prevent or lessen more serious problems later on.
Is it possible to start orthodontic treatment when primary teeth are still in place?
In certain cases, when orthodontic problems are significant enough to warrant it, the orthodontist might recommend starting treatment when your child still has baby teeth.
Of course, if the patient is not ready for treatment immediately, the orthodontist will monitor his or her development and growth until the time is right.
In cases where orthodontic treatment is begun early, it is typically in the form of ‘early interceptive treatment’, which is a limited form of orthodontic treatment.
This type of treatment most often takes places between the ages of 6 and 10, and does not involve full braces. Instead, it addresses issues like making more space for developing teeth, and correction of overbites, underbites, crossbites, and harmful oral habits like thumb sucking.
Do children who have early interceptive treatment still need braces later on?
Quite often, children who have had early interceptive treatment still need braces once they’re older.
Early interceptive treatments are, in fact, usually done in preparation for full-fledged orthodontic treatment, so that in the long run, it’s more effective and sometimes quicker, too.