Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children
Evaluating your child around 7-8 years of age discovers orthodontic issues earlier and minimizes future complications. While most young patients will not need active treatment immediately, Dr. Reichard proactively monitors your child’s facial, jaw and tooth development to determine if, when and what type of future treatment is needed.
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Orthodontic Screening Is Optimal at Ages 7-8
The facial development of a 7-8 year old presents a great opportunity for Dr. Reichard to assess both current and future tooth and jaw relationships. Most children’s first permanent molars and permanent incisors are present by this age. Additionally, the second permanent molars (the “twelve-years”) are developing in the jaw.
If orthodontic issues are present earlier, Dr. Reichard recommends an evaluation as soon as possible instead of waiting until your child is 7-8 years old.
Signs Indicating Your Child May Need Orthodontic Care
Orthodontic problems at this age can be caused by a variety of factors, including inherited or congenital conditions, mouth or jaw injuries or repetitive oral habits like thumb-sucking.
If your child has any of the following, he or she would benefit from Dr. Reichard’s complimentary initial assessment:
- Thumb-sucking, particularly after the age of 5
- Missing teeth, especially when all other teeth have erupted
- Complaints of tooth or jaw discomfort
- Difficulty biting or chewing
- Mouth breathing
- Speech impediments
- Teeth appear too crowded
- Teeth appear with too much space in between them
- The middle of the upper and lower teeth are not aligned
- Teeth protrude away from each other
- When closing the jaw, top and bottom teeth do not come together
- Upper front teeth excessively overlap the lower front teeth
- Lower jaw sticks out and/or front teeth sit in front of upper front teeth
- Jaw shifts laterally or sideways when closing or opening mouth
- Early or late loss of baby teeth; children typically start losing baby teeth around five years and have all permanent teeth around 13 years
- Embarrassed or concerned about their smile
Phase One, or Interceptive, Treatment for Children
Rachel E Reichard Orthodontics may offer pediatric patients a two-phase treatment to straighten teeth and create a functional bite, while keeping in mind the facial changes that will occur during adolescent growth.
Phase 1Phase one treatment, also called interceptive treatment, is foundational. It prepares the teeth and jaw for normal dental development.
Most pediatric patients that undergo a phase one treatment will require phase two treatment.
Interceptive treatment is geared toward children around 7-10 years of age. While each child’s treatment plan is individually customized, a typical phase one treatment uses appliances like palatal expanders to create the proper room for permanent teeth to erupt. Typical phase one treatment length is 12 months.
Phase one treatment is followed by a resting period, during which natural growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout the rest period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.
A Great Smile, Healthier Mouth and Better Self-Image for Your Child
Early treatment from Dr. Reichard corrects jaw growth, rectifies bite problems, straightens teeth and gives permanent teeth room to come in properly. As with many types of health-related problems, earlier identification and treatment of tooth and jaw issues prevents more costly and invasive future procedures if left untreated.
For example, jaw bones harden and stop growing as your child ends his or her teen years, prohibiting the correction of certain bite problems. This increases the likelihood of procedures such as tooth extraction or oral surgery to help correct orthodontic issues as adults.
However, some problems can arise much earlier than adulthood. For example, crowded teeth can be challenging for kids to brush and floss properly, increasing chances of childhood cavities or early stages of gum disease.