It’s natural to have questions about orthodontic treatment for your child, especially if it’s the first child to get braces in your family…
One of the most common questions we get asked is how early is too early to get braces? While people of any age can benefit from braces, The Australian Society of Orthodontists recommends children visit a registered specialist orthodontist for an assessment between the ages of 8-10 years old. This allows the orthodontist to evaluate your child’s teeth and determine if they may need early treatment. Your orthodontist’s assessment will cover existing teeth as well as those that are yet to break the surface to help predict their future growth.
Some people get confused about what early orthodontic treatment is. It’s a treatment that takes place before braces when a child is 8-10 years old. Your orthodontist will be able to identify abnormalities earlier in your child’s life when their teeth and jaws are easier to manipulate. This is helpful for treating a variety of orthodontic problems such as protruding teeth, crowding, spacing, and missing teeth before more serious problems start to develop.
There are several ways you can determine whether your kid may need early orthodontic treatment. You should seek an assessment if you observe any of these characteristics or behaviors in your child:
- If your child’s teeth do not meet properly at all when biting
- Mouth breathing and/or snoring
- If your child’s front teeth are crowded (you generally won’t see this until the child is about seven or eight years old)
- Protruding front teeth
- Biting or chewing difficulties
- A speech impediment
- If your child’s jaw shifts when he or she opens or closes the mouth
- If your child is older than five years and still sucks a thumb or finger
Early orthodontic treatment begins while a kid’s jawbones are still soft. They do not harden until children reach their late teens. As the bones are still pliable, corrective procedures work faster and more effectively than they do for teens and adults. Appropriate early treatment is an effective interceptive measure that lays the foundation for a healthy and well-functioning mouth in adulthood.
While your child’s teeth may appear aligned and straight, there could be underlying issues that need to be addressed to prevent more serious problems from developing. Early intervention usually means that later orthodontic treatment will be more straightforward and completed in a shorter amount of time which can also be financially beneficial in the long run.
Your orthodontist will typically examine your child’s first permanent molars, which are the flat teeth at the back of the mouth. This will give your orthodontist an opportunity to check for a developing malocclusion, also known as “bad bite”. They will also examine any incisors that have come in, so problems such as crowding, deep bites, crossbites, and open bites can be detected.
Finding an orthodontic home for your child by age 7 can help them to become familiar with their specialist, which can help to ease any anxiety they may have about their treatment in the future. During your initial assessment, your orthodontist will take an X-ray of your child’s teeth and facial bones to understand how their teeth are likely to develop in the future. They will be able to diagnose any existing issues, present a treatment plan that encompasses their current needs and give you an idea of what may be necessary for the future. While many factors can contribute to the health of your child’s teeth and their need for orthodontic treatment – including early loss of baby teeth or accidents resulting in tooth loss – an early assessment can help you to prepare for treatment in the future.
Orthodontists are the experts at straightening teeth and correcting bad bites. They begin as dentists before completing an additional three years of full-time study to become registered specialists. This extra training gives orthodontists in-depth knowledge of the newest technologies and the best practices to safeguard the health of your child’s teeth.
If you think your child needs or would benefit from early orthodontic treatment, only a specialist orthodontist has the training, experience and expert knowledge to determine the most appropriate treatment options and the best time to start treatment. When you see a specialist orthodontist you can be confident that your child is in the best hands.