Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children

The Advantages of Early Treatment:

Years ago it was rare for a child to undergo orthodontic treatment at a young age. Instead, treatment was most often performed when all adult teeth were available. Unfortunately, treatment at this older age often necessitated the removal of four permanent teeth.

Orthodontics has come a long way since then. Today, it is extremely rare for a child to require the removal of teeth. Crowded mouths that are identified at a young age can benefit from expansion treatment and thus avoid extraction treatment.

Interceptive or two stage treatment has a goal or correcting existing problems and reducing the severity of other problems which can develop in the future.

The advantages of early treatment include: protecting protrusive teeth from fracture during sports and/or accidents; correcting the dental framework to allow a more ideal eruption and/or development of the bite; improved self image at a younger age; and a higher degree of cooperation and enthusiasm from our younger patients.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children are screened for orthodontic treatment at age seven. Although this may seem young, the reason for the early screening is that by age seven lower front teeth are erupting and developing crowding can be identified. Additionally, by this age the direction of facial growth has often been determined and if orthodontic treatment will be required the treatment can often be planned pro-actively versus retroactively.

If you suspect a problem in your child’s mouth ask us to take a look.

Protecting Protruded Teeth:

When teeth protrude, who is at a greater risk for trauma, boys or girls?

In a recent issue of the American Journal of Orthodontics, an article was written comparing different types of orthodontic treatment. One of the factors studied was early correction of protruded teeth. The question was “does early correction of protruded teeth reduce the likelihood of trauma to these teeth?”

The answer to the question of who experiences more trauma, boys or girls, is very interesting. Boys and girls have an equal chance of traumatizing their teeth.

This finding surprised me; I had always believed boys experience more trauma to their teeth. In fact, boys and girls have a one in three chance of traumatizing their teeth. It is not surprising too that the further the teeth protrude, the more likely the teeth will be traumatized, and conversely, the more the teeth are pulled back, the less likely the teeth will be traumatized.

The take home message is clear. Protruding teeth should be moved back at as early an age as feasible in order to avoid unnecessary trauma to these teeth.