It’s not unusual for people to think of teens in braces when we talk about orthodontics, but treatment can actually benefit patients of all ages. While it’s true that we treat many teens here at Murray & Olson Orthodontics, we also see young children every day! This is in line with the recommendation from the American Association of Orthodontists that every child has an initial evaluation done by about the age of seven. But where does this recommendation come from? Don’t put it off, keep reading to learn why early treatment matters.
Since children this age still have a developing mouth and plenty of baby teeth, some parents wonder why we recommend an orthodontic screening. But this is the perfect time to look for any issues that are currently present or likely to develop in the future. Even if immediate treatment isn’t recommended, we can monitor the child’s growth patterns over time. This gives us the best chance of identifying any problems before they can become more serious.
Your child’s smile is one of a kind, just like they are! Our preventative approach is based on customized care that takes into account a child’s specific needs, lifestyle, and goals. This allows our expert team to provide each young patient with exactly what they need to achieve a lifetime of healthy smiles! When you schedule a free evaluation for your child in our Visalia office, we’ll take a look at how their mouth is developing so far and assess their overall oral health. Our doctors will also look for any issues that may require further observation and possible treatment, whether now or in the future.
If Dr. Murray or Dr. Olson detect any potential problems in a child between the ages of 6-9, it may prompt a treatment stage that we often refer to as Phase I or interceptive orthodontics.
What is interceptive orthodontics?
Interceptive orthodontics, also known as Phase I orthodontics, is a process we use to identify, diagnose, and treat any issues a younger child is experiencing with the growth and development of their teeth or jaw. By starting the most effective treatments at the most optimal time, we can create space for the proper development and eruption of the permanent teeth. This will also enhance the growth of a child’s jaw, resulting in straighter teeth, improved oral health, and a more symmetrical smile.
Who is a good fit for interceptive orthodontics?
Your child’s first visit to our office will include a thorough examination of their teeth and jaws. If our doctors notice any of the following, they may recommend interceptive orthodontics.
- Your child appears to be prone to a problem we want to prevent.
- Your child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept.
- Your child’s jawbones may need some guidance as they grow.
Developmental issues don’t always equal immediate treatment. Some can correct themselves as a child grows, but others may require intervention. Many orthodontic problems are genetic in nature, including gapped or crowded teeth, extra or missing teeth, and other irregularities. Some can be acquired through injury, premature tooth loss, or bad oral habits. Whatever the root cause, these issues can affect not only the appearance of a child’s smile but how it feels and functions, too. looks, feels, and functions. With interceptive orthodontics, we’re able to successfully address all of these concerns!
What does interceptive orthodontics look like?
Many parents worry that an orthodontic evaluation will automatically lead to early treatment for their child. However, we recommend this in only a small percentage of the children we see! Even if early treatment is warranted, it doesn’t necessarily mean putting your child in braces right away. In fact, many Phase I treatments don’t even use brackets or wires! Some of these include:
- removing one or more of the primary teeth in order to guide the proper placement of the permanent teeth
- using expanders to widen the upper jaw and provide space for very crowded teeth
- placing teeth spacers to save a spot for permanent teeth if a primary tooth has been lost early due to injury or decay
Our practice believes that following the normal patterns of dental growth and development in children leads to the best results. We can treat many problems in a child whose mouth is still developing with relative ease, but that same treatment may become more complex once the jawbone stops growing in their late teens.
Interceptive orthodontic treatment allows our doctors to achieve lasting results for many common issues and lessen the impact of others! It is important to note, though, that most patients will still require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process.
Keeping an eye on your child’s smile
Most parents know that regular dental visits are essential for keeping their child’s smile healthy. But did you know that regular orthodontic visits also come with many benefits? Even if we don’t detect any oral issues during your child’s initial evaluation, maintaining follow-up visits as they grow means we can:
- monitor the progress of the adult teeth as they begin to emerge
- monitor the progress of the facial and jaw development
- reduce the need for jaw surgery later in life
- guide emerging teeth into the ideal positions
- detect any hidden dental problems
- reduce the risk of impacted teeth
- reduce the risk of needing tooth extractions in the future
By offering patients this kind of proactive care, we’re able to give children the personalized care they need when they need it the most, giving them the best chance for a happy, healthy smile!
Your child’s growing smile deserves expert care from Murray & Olson Orthodontics
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Like many things in life, orthodontics is often best used as a preventive measure! Getting a handle on your child’s orthodontic issues early in life can reduce the chances of them developing more serious problems later on. This can save you time and money, and make treatment much easier for them to deal with. While early treatment won’t be necessary for all children, it can have an incredible impact on those who need it!
Interceptive orthodontics can align a child’s teeth and jaws, restore bite function, and give them a confident smile. If your child is ready for their first orthodontic evaluation, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at their dental development so far. Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Murray or Dr. Olson and give your child’s smile room to grow into something beautiful!