Since 1993

Early orthodontics example

Early Orthodontics or Braces for Young Kids

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that your child’s first orthodontic evaluation be at 7 years old. This is because the permanent first molars erupt around age 6 and should be fully in the mouth by age 7. The permanent first molars establish the foundation of the child’s adult bite at this early age.  An orthodontist can see a lot by this age and discuss how your child’s teeth and face are developing. Not all kids need early treatment, but it is important to know how your child is doing so that you detect and correct any developing problems early. The growing years are the best time for treatment. Early treatment is typically done between age 7 to 9 years of age. 

What is Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Some people think that you should or must wait to get braces after the baby teeth are lost and all the permanent teeth have erupted.  This may be the case for some people but is actually a bad idea for others. Early screening by an orthodontic specialist is the best way to feel confident you are taking the best care of your child’s developing teeth and jaws.  

In some cases, we hear parents say the child loses the baby teeth very slowly so that’s why they waited to come for an exam. We find that delayed timing in tooth loss is usually because the child has severe crowding and this is what is slowing the process. This might be a perfect case for the use of an expander in the early years to improve jaw growth and make room in the mouth for the large permanent teeth. 

The goal of early treatment is to proactively correct any developing problems at the appropriate time so that the child has the best foundation possible for the growing face and developing permanent teeth.  

Early treatment typically can take as little as 3 months to as much as 15 months depending on the corrections needed. 

Learn more about how growth affects orthodontic treatment timing

Early orthodontic appliances may include: 

  • Traditional Braces (limited to the permanent teeth)
  • Space maintainers to preserve space for permanent teeth when a baby tooth has been lost early
  • Expanders that reduce crowding, creates space for permanent teeth and increases the size of the jaws
  • Growth Appliances to correct underbites or overbites
  • Habit Appliances for Thumb sucking or Tongue Thrusting

Common issues that can cause the need for early orthodontics: 

  • Thumb sucking or tongue thrusting
  • Chronic mouth breathing  
  • Overcrowding
  • Crossbite
  • Crooked teeth/gapped teeth
  • Misaligned jaws
  • Early loss of baby teeth resulting in space loss
  • Incoming adult teeth that are obstructed by baby teeth

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