Early Orthodontic Treatment in Chesapeake, VA.

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It’s never too late to begin orthodontic treatment, but when it comes to your child’s developing smile, did you know that earlier is better than later? According to the American Association of Orthodontists, kids should have an initial orthodontic screening at age 7. What makes early evaluation — and potentially, early orthodontic intervention — so important?

Read on to learn more about interceptive orthodontic treatment and how growth monitoring can help your child enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles!

What Is Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment, also known as phase 1 orthodontics or interceptive orthodontic treatment, is a service we provide to children at a younger age, typically between the ages of 7 and 11, before all of their permanent teeth have erupted. The goal of early orthodontic treatment is to address and correct specific orthodontic issues and dental problems in their early stages, to prevent more serious problems from developing as the child’s mouth and jaw continue to grow. Many orthodontic conditions are easier to correct if they’re detected early.

Although every child’s development is different, in most kids, the first adult molars typically emerge by age 6. This, along with other developmental markers, indicates the basic health and alignment of the teeth, from front to back and side to side. It may also be possible at this point to determine whether there is adequate room in the mouth for all of the permanent teeth and, if not, to take action.

There are many ways that kids can benefit from seeing an orthodontist at an early age, but it’s important to recognize that early evaluation doesn’t necessarily mean early treatment. In most cases, if treatment like Phase 1 braces is not needed, we simply monitor your child’s growth patterns until we see that it’s time for treatment to begin. This allows us to prevent future problems and get the best results from your child’s smile!

What Are the Benefits 
of Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Phase 1 orthodontic treatment can provide many benefits, including improved dental health, increased confidence, and a reduced likelihood of more extensive and costly orthodontic treatment in the future. Additional benefits include:

  • A better prognosis for how the permanent teeth will develop
  • Correction of habits that may be the cause of development problems, such as thumbsucking or tongue pushing
  • Correction of bite problems like an open bite, crossbite, or deep bite
  • Proper growth of the jaw to accommodate emerging teeth
  • Lowered risk of damage to any protruding teeth
  • Correction of speech problems

What Problems Does Early Orthodontic Treatment Address?

Phase 1 orthodontic treatment can address various dental alignment problems. The specific issues that can be addressed with early orthodontic treatment include:

Early orthodontic treatment can correct malocclusions, which are issues with the alignment of the teeth when the jaws are closed. Common malocclusions include overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites.

Early orthodontic treatment can correct malocclusions, which are issues with the alignment of the teeth when the jaws are closed. Common malocclusions include overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites.

If there are excessive gaps between teeth, early orthodontic treatment can close these spaces to ensure a more even distribution of teeth.

Some children may have problems with the growth of their jaws, either an upper jaw that’s too narrow or a lower jaw that’s too small. Early orthodontic treatment can help guide the growth of the jaws to ensure proper alignment.

Habits like thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting can affect dental development and lead to orthodontic problems. Early intervention can help break these habits and prevent associated issues.

Certain speech issues can be related to dental or jaw problems. Early orthodontic treatment can address these issues to improve speech clarity.

Sometimes, permanent teeth may become impacted, meaning they don’t erupt properly. Early orthodontic treatment can help guide these teeth into their correct positions.

Crossbites occur when some upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth when biting. Early treatment can correct crossbites to ensure proper alignment.

It’s important to note that not all children require early orthodontic treatment, and treatment plans are highly individualized based on each child’s specific needs. Our Chesapeake orthodontists assess the child’s dental and jaw development to determine whether early treatment is necessary and, if so, what specific interventions are required.

Is My Child a Candidate for Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Several common signs and factors indicate a need for an early orthodontic evaluation and potential treatment. Certain habits can also influence the development and function of their teeth, jaws, and mouth. Some examples of these are:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth. Your child should typically start losing teeth around age 5, and will have all permanent teeth around age 13.
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb-sucking after age 5
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (when the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
  • Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
  • Crowded front teeth around age 7 or 8

Various orthodontic treatments are available to help correct these issues, and the sooner they’re taken care of, the less damage they may cause. But these potential problems aren’t always easy to recognize. That’s another reason you should bring your child in for an early orthodontic screening, regardless of whether you can detect these problems.

Dr Bivins with patient

Building Radiant Smiles From the Start With Early Orthodontic Treatment

At Bivins Orthodontics, we’ve provided our TideWater community with expert early orthodontic care for over 20 years! Early orthodontic treatment can prevent more serious and expensive issues down the road, and our experienced orthodontic team will ensure that your child’s smile is beautiful and healthy. We provide a comfortable and friendly environment, making every visit enjoyable and productive for you and your child. Schedule a complimentary consultation with us today, and trust us to help your child embark on a lifetime of confident smiles!