Early Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic treatment works to create a healthy, functional bite, where the teeth and jaws line up correctly. A healthy bite is created partially through tooth alignment and partially through jaw position. When the jaws and teeth are in line, your smile is more attractive, bringing your teeth, lips, and face into proportion. The proper alignment of your teeth and jaws helps you bite and chew properly and helps you speak clearly. Straight teeth are less likely to suffer decay, gum disease, and injury. 

What is the right age for children's orthodontics?

There is no “right” age for your child to receive orthodontics, but, ideally, children receive their first orthodontic evaluation between seven and nine years old. Parents typically begin noticing issues with their child’s teeth, mouth, or gums around eight years old, and this is when crooked or crowded teeth, bad bites, and other issues begin to manifest. 
At around seven years old, your child should have a mix of baby and permanent teeth. An orthodontic check-up that allows your orthodontics provider to evaluate your child’s needs as the face and jaws develop provides a wealth of information. Your orthodontist can see problems as they’re still developing and advise if and when treatment is needed.

Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as under or overbite. Early treatment also helps make room for permanent teeth to come in properly.

Early Treatment Allows Your Orthodontist To:
  • Correct and guide the growth of your child's jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
  • Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
  • Create more space for crowded teeth
  • Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
  • Correct thumb-sucking and help improve minor speech problem

Isn’t seven years old too young for children’s orthodontics?

Just because an orthodontist evaluates a child at seven years old for orthodontics doesn’t mean they need immediate treatment. Only a few orthodontic problems need treatment right away, but early, interceptive treatment can save your family more invasive treatments and even surgery.

Smile Orthodontics also created the “Growth Guidance” program. In this program, our team monitors your child's growth with regular checkups every six to 12 months free of charge, while helping them learn great habits for a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime. 

What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early treatment benefit my child?

Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.

Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child's smile.

How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and have all permanent teeth around age 13)
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth-breathing
  • Your child continues sucking his or her thumb after age five
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
  • Teeth that don't come together in a normal manner or even at all
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
  • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight

Not sure if your child would benefit from orthodontics or not? Call or schedule an appointment with Smile Orthodontics today! Taking the time to start them on the road to oral health now will pay off with a lifetime of stunning smiles.

Santa Rosa (707) 546-8600
1880 Sonoma Ave
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
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windsor (707) 546-8600
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Windsor, CA 95492
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Rohnert Park (707) 585-2500
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