Early Orthodontics

At what age should a child first visit the orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children should have an orthodontic consultation by the age of 7 years old.  This allows Dr. Danielle London to determine if orthodontic treatment will be required and the best time for the patient to be treated.  Many of the dentists in our community have been trained to identify orthodontic problems early, and may refer you to our office earlier than the age of 7.

Why are children being evaluated at such an early age?

Early diagnosis and treatment can guide erupting teeth into a more favorable position, preserve space for permanent teeth, and ensure proper growth and development.

If early treatment is indicated, Dr. London can guide the growth of the jaw and incoming permanent teeth.  Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb sucking, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems.  In other words, early treatment can avoid irreversible damage and simply future treatment when all the permanent teeth have erupted.

Does early treatment benefit all children?

Early treatment does not necessarily benefit all children.  Certain types of orthodontic problems can be better treated in the teen years when all the permanent teeth have erupted.  Some skeletal orthodontic problems should not be addressed until growth is more advanced.  Dr. London develops a comprehensive and collaborative treatment plan individualized for each child’s needs.  If the doctor decides the patient is not ready for treatment, they are placed in an orthodontic supervision program.

What is the Orthodontic Supervision Program?

The orthodontic supervision program is for patients who are not ready for treatment and have been placed on recall.  This program enables us to monitor the growth and development, as well as the eruptive pattern of the permanent teeth.  Sometimes, poor eruption patterns of permanent teeth may be eliminated with early removal of baby teeth.  This can reduce the comprehensive treatment time.  We will notify your general dentist of any recommendations made during your visit.  We normally see the patients on recall every 6 months to observe their progress as they grow.  There is no fee for this program and it helps the orthodontist determine the optimum time to begin treatment to achieve a beautiful, healthy, and lasting smile for your child.

What are the lasting benefits of orthodontic treatment?

Straight teeth that create an esthetic smile is the most obvious benefit of what we do.  However, there are many other benefits to orthodontic treatment, some of which we have listed below.

The physical benefits of straighter teeth:

  • Easier cleanings
    • Properly positioned teeth are easier to brush and floss than teeth that are crowded, crooked, or unevenly spaced.
  • Lower risk of cavities and gum disease
    • Better oral hygiene allows for more effective removal of plague.
    • Plague retention leads to tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Decreased risk of abnormal deterioration
    • Properly aligned teeth are less likely to wear down and fracture.
    • A healthy bite reduces stress on the supporting jaw joints and musculature.

The emotional benefits of straighter teeth:

  • Increased self-esteem and confidence
    • Multiple studies have revealed psychological benefits of a beautiful smile.
    • Children with straight teeth are less likely to suffer negative psychosocial effects.
  • Better future career opportunities
    • Your smile is a reflection of you!
    • Multiple studies have shown professional advantages to having an attractive smile.

Will early treatment prevent the need for treatment as an adolescent?

Early treatment can begin the correction of significant problems, prevent more severe problems from developing, and simplify future treatment.  The final alignment of the permanent teeth, however, will not be corrected with early treatment because all of the permanent teeth have not yet erupted.  A comprehensive Phase II of treatment, after all the permanent teeth have erupted, completes the correction.

Do we still need to see our family dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Patients in active orthodontic treatment require more effort to keep their teeth and gums clean.  We want to insure the highest level of dental health and recommend you see your family dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings at least every 6 months during treatment.