Orthodontics for your child will be one of the most important contributions you make to their long term health, self-esteem, and future success in everything they do. Numerous studies show that an attractive smile is what people notice and look for first when meeting you in a social or professional setting. Crooked teeth and less than attractive smile send a negative message. You never get a second chance to make that first impression, and your child deserves to make a great first impression that lasts!
Most children will need only a single step of full braces upon eruption of all adult teeth (average age 12). The average treatment time for your child’s full braces is 18 to 24 months.
Some children, however, need a preliminary stage of treatment know as Early Orthodontic Intervention (Phase One Treatment) during the ages of 7 to 10 years old, followed by full braces (Phase Two Treatment) when all permanent teeth come in, around age 12. Early Treatment may be necessary to create/gain space for the developing permanent teeth, break harmful oral habits, and to facilitate a better bite and function when all adult teeth erupt later (see more below).
But how do you as a concerned parent know if your child needs Early (Phase I) Orthodontic Treatment?
Dr. Tsibel’s goal is appropriate early/interceptive orthodontic treatment and NOT over-treatment!
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children be screened by an orthodontist for orthodontic problems at age 7 and Dr. Tsibel supports this recommendation being fully aware that some orthodontic problems (see below) are best treated in two phases. In fact, amazing results can be achieved with the two-phase treatment when it’s appropriate and necessary! However, Dr. Tsibel will let you know that a lot of recent orthodontic clinical research has demonstrated that some of the early orthodontic problems, even though they may appear quite severe and disturbing to parents, are best treated in a single stage of treatment later, around age 12 when all permanent teeth are in, rather than in two phases. Unfortunately, some orthodontists aggressively treat many children with an unnecessary first phase of treatment. This results in treatment that is no more effective or efficient - with far more appointments over time, with far greater cost to the family, and with no better end result for the child than what would have been achieved with an appropriate and well-timed single phase.
When you bring your child in for a consultation, Dr. Tsibel will always honestly tell you which types of orthodontic problems should be treated early and in two phases, and which can and should be delayed until all of the permanent teeth have come in to be treated in one stage. Statistically in our practice, we recommend two phases of treatment for our younger patients only about 30% of the time.
First Orthodontic Screening at AGE 7!
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation occurs at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but enough skeletal/jaw and dental development has taken place that a thorough examination can provide parents with relevant information regarding their child's skeletal/facial growth pattern and dental development, and will help to advise parents on ideal treatment timing. In most cases, if all seems normal, the treatment at this young age is not indicated, and Dr. Tsibel will alleviate your concerns and simply monitor the child on a complimentary 6 to 12 month observation plan until the patient is ready for treatment.
By the age of 7, the first adult molars (6-year molars) are usually in place, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth and jaw relationships. Furthermore, some incisors (front teeth) have come in and the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, underbite, open bite, and early crowding. If the presenting concerns are significant Dr. Tsibel may recommend early/interceptive treatment. Most children at age 7 will not require treatment, but it is the best time to begin simple evaluations.
Only an orthodontic specialist is capable of identifying current orthodontic problems with teeth and/or jaws and relating them to a forecast of future growth and development. You don't have to wait for a referral from your dentist to have your child evaluated…call our office today for your child’s complimentary consultation.
Some signs or habits that may indicate the need for an early orthodontic examination and treatment are:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty in chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Crowding, misplaced or blocked out teeth
- Severe protrusion of upper front teeth (large overbite)
- Underbites (lower front teeth bite ahead of the upper)
- Crossbites (reverse overlap of front or back teeth)
- Jaws that shift or make sounds
- Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
- Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all (open bite)
- Jaws and teeth that are asymmetric and/or out of proportion to the rest of the face
The Benefits of Early/Interceptive Treatment (Phase One Treatment)
If early/interceptive orthodontic treatment (Phase One Treatment) is advisable it will often save the patient from jaw surgery or more extensive (and expensive) treatment later on.
Early treatment can:
- Move the protruding front teeth back so they will be less susceptible to trauma and injury
- Use maximum advantage of growth to "mold" jaws, teeth, and dental arches into a more ideal position
- Create facial symmetry and balance by influencing/guiding jaw growth (orthopedics)
- Correct crossbites, underbites, and severe overbites
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches
- Gain space for crowded, erupting permanent teeth
- Preserve/maintain space for unerupted teeth
- Reduce the need for permanent tooth extractions later
- Reduce likelihood of impacted and blocked-out permanent teeth
- Correct thumb-sucking and other harmful oral habits
- Regulate and improve abnormal swallowing or speech problems Improve the child's self-image during formative years
- Reduce treatment time with braces later (Phase Two Treatment)
In short, when necessary, sensible and conservative early treatment leads to a faster, easier, more predictable and successful later treatment.