Orthodontic Treatment for Children
At any age, an orthodontist can fix orthodontic problems and enhance appearance and restore a bright smile, but there is a time period when optimal results can be achieved. Orthodontics Australia recommends that children should have their initial orthodontic assessment while aged between 7 and 10 years old, while the Australian Society of Orthodontists recommends the age 8-10 years. Parents should have their children visit a specialist orthodontist when they first note or suspect orthodontic problems, or before they are ten years old.
When is early orthodontic treatment required?
An early orthodontic evaluation can benefit every child, but there are several indications that would suggest the need for orthodontic assessment or treatment. Some of the signs parents should look out for include:
- Crossbites of either the front or back teeth
- Open bites
- Overcrowding of teeth
- Thumb and finger sucking habits
- Premature loss of the baby teeth due to decay, cavities, or even trauma
- Protruding teeth
- Difficulties chewing or biting
- Teeth that leave spaces when child bites upper and lower teeth together
- Familial history of teeth development or orthodontic problems
It is noteworthy that your child may not be in immediate need of orthodontic treatment or evaluation, but a consultation with an orthodontist can inform you about the kind of help you may need if problems arise in the future. When intervention is not necessary, orthodontists monitor growth and development and can accurately determine when it is ideal to commence treatment.
Benefits of orthodontic evaluation for children
Early orthodontic treatment is also known as interceptive orthodontic treatment because it helps identify and correct problems before they become severe. If the initial evaluation is done early enough, it can provide timely detection of orthodontic problems and a greater chance of effective treatment or corrective measures. A child aged between 7 and 10 will have soft jaw bones, and they will not harden until the late teenage years. Corrective orthodontic procedures are more effective and work faster when started young because the jaw bones are soft and pliable, which means that teeth can be moved more easily.
Besides higher effectiveness of corrective measures, early orthodontic intervention provides:
- Prognosis on how permanent teeth will grow
- Correction of habits that may cause orthodontic problems such as sucking thumbs
- Accommodation for emerging teeth
- Appropriate correction of bite problems
- Alleviation of future dental problems
- Improvement of dental aesthetics and consequentially higher self-esteem for children
If your child has signs that are indicative of orthodontic problems, or if you think it is time to get your child the first orthodontic evaluation, visit a registered specialist orthodontist.