Many conditions seen in younger children can benefit by being treated early rather than waiting until all their adult teeth have erupted.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that “the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but close examination can anticipate the best time to begin treatment”.
The benefits of early orthodontic assessment is that it provides an opportunity for prudent intervention to guide growth, and intercept problems. If orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development, and begin treatment at the appropriate time.
Specific conditions which can be improved are;
- Crossbites, where the upper teeth bite inside the lowers. These can be unsightly, but in addition, if left untreated, can lead to jaw displacements, unfavorable tooth wear, and damage to the local gum level.
- Early crowding. In some youngsters, measures can be taken to reduce the need for adult tooth extractions in later orthodontic treatment.
- Preserving space for any unerupted teeth.
- Protruding teeth can be corrected, so that they are less susceptible to injury.
- Improving the relationship of the jaws, to encourage normal growth and development.
Early treatment takes advantage of the good cooperation and growth of children at this age, and improves the facial appearance and a child’s self-esteem particularly if bullying is involved. Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make an attractive smile – it helps create a healthier child.