Parents understand the value of a beautiful, properly aligned smile, so they may wonder how early they can begin orthodontic treatment if a problem with the positioning of the teeth becomes evident. This may become apparent when the child still has some of his or her baby teeth. It is appropriate to consult with an orthodontist by the time your child is 6 or 7 years old to determine if some sort of active orthodontic intervention may be needed.
By that age, enough of a child’s permanent teeth have erupted for the orthodontist to determine whether a misalignment is likely to occur and if action should be taken to alter the course of the smile’s development.
Early orthodontic intervention may or may not involve dental braces, depending on your child’s specific needs. If the rate of jaw growth is the problem, then the specialist can manipulate that more easily in a younger child than in an adolescent, when more extensive appliances may be needed.
Additionally, delaying treatment could create the need for more extensive and involved interventions during adolescence. This may include surgery in addition to dental braces and other appliances. A short Phase I treatment (which often lasts about a year) can reduce the time that the child will need to spend wearing dental braces as a teen.
Parents should still consider scheduling an orthodontic evaluation for their child even if it appears that the smile is developing normally. The initial evaluation may not identify any immediate cause for concern, but it also provides the specialist with a baseline to monitor any changes that may warrant treatment at some point in the future.
Children as young as six years old can benefit from an orthodontic evaluation, even if no specific problems are apparent. Dental braces or other appliances can be used while baby teeth are still present, so schedule an evaluation at our office to learn what interventions may be most beneficial for your child.