Early orthodontic treatment
What is Early Orthodontic Treatment?
Consulting your orthodontist early about your child’s teeth and jaw development is important and beneficial for many reasons.
- Growth and development problems may be easily corrected if detected early
- Outcomes for you children may be better if treated early rather than as a teenager or adult
- Early treatment can be relatively minor and inexpensive/li>
- You will be confident nothing has been missed for your child
Orthodontics is not only about aesthetics and a pretty smile, but also about bite and function. How well your teeth bite together is called your occlusion.
Problems with your occlusion, otherwise known as malocclusion, can lead to lifelong problems, pain and expenses as an adult. Knowing your child has a problem (or not) can be challenging, and orthodontists have trained specifically to be able to detect such subtle issues. Sometimes, what may seem like abnormal development to a parent can be harmless, but other less noticeable changes can easily go undetected.
The ADA recommends that children see an orthodontist around the ages of 7 or 8. At this age, some baby teeth may still be present but adult teeth will have started to erupt, and your orthodontist will be able to assess your child thoroughly.
If at consultation problems are detected, then these are some things your orthodontist may do to help;
Guide the growth of the jaw to improve facial symmetry
Correct bad oral habits, like thumb sucking
Create room for adult teeth to erupt into favourable positions
Reduce the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
Prevent more serious issues developing
Reduce the treatment time in braces later
– How Early Orthodontic Treatment Works –
Early orthodontic treatment mainly involves appliances that will affect and improve the development of the jaws; this is called orthopaedic treatment. These appliances can be made from various materials such as plastic, ceramic or metal, and can be fixed in place or removable. Sometimes treatment may involve the teeth as well. Whatever is needed, your orthodontist will carefully consult you on what problems need correcting and what options may be best suited for you or your child.
Jaws develop and teeth move by gentle yet constant forces being applied. As teenagers or adults, your jaws have finished growing and the bone becomes hard, which limits amount of correction that can be done. This is why treatment to affect jaw size and shape and to improve facial symmetry is best commenced in childhood to early teens, while they are still growing.
PHASE 1 | Early Treatment
At consultation, your orthodontist may detect your child has problems that require Phase 1 orthodontic treatment. Phase 1 means that your child still has a mixture of teeth, some bay and some permanent teeth and usually commences around the ages of 8-10. As the name suggests, Phase 1 treatment is the initial phase of what is normally a 2-phase treatment.
For Phase 1 treatment, braces are bonded to the teeth and a wire fitted. Corrections are made to a certain extent, with the aim to simplify later treatment and improve the outcome for your child.
Once the appropriate corrections are made the phase 1 appliances are removed and your child will go into the retention phase, until they are ready for Phase 2 treatment. Retention means wearing a plate or mouth guard to keep the teeth from moving back to their old positions.
– Duration of Treatment –
Early orthodontic treatment usually consists of orthopaedic treatment (treatment of jaw development) and usually happens around the ages of 6-8. At this early stage, treatment may take as little as 6-8 months to complete. Once early treatment is completed you will be confident with the knowledge that your child is under the supervision of your orthodontist and receiving annual checks to make sure that everything stays on track. It’s important to know that many children don’t need Early Treatment but a consultation with your orthodontist will confirm whether or not your child does need it.
PHASE 1 | Early Treatment
Phase 1 treatment if applicable can last 12-18 months. Not all children require Phase 1 treatment and this will be fully discussed with you and your child so you understand and are comfortable with each stage.
The Retention phase of treatment is the period between Phase 1 and 2 and will be as long as needed until Phase 2 is required. This will depend on your child’s growth and development. This period is typically between 1-3 years.