Inspiring the Best in Our Youngest Patients: Early Orthodontic Treatment

Nov 25, 2023 | Braces, Orthodontic Expertise

Little girl hitting a volleyball in midairEarly orthodontic care is incredibly important when it comes to small smiles. Even minor bite problems can blossom into bigger issues if not found by your child’s dentist or pediatric orthodontist. That’s why we (and the American Association of Orthodontists) recommend kids visit our braces space by age 7! This milestone year gives Dr. Wade the perfect opportunity to catch tooth troubles in time to treat them – addressing anything suspicious early on so we can treat it quicker and more effectively than ever!

Childhood orthodontic care, also called Phase 1 Orthodontics or interceptive orthodontics, is vital to creating happy, healthy smiles. But what all does Phase 1 ortho involve? Is it just braces for kids? In this guide, we’ll cover everything parents need to know about early orthodontic visits and how they help your little one’s smile develop!

Why are Early Orthodontic Visits So Important?

When your child is growing, several issues can pop up before they are a teenager  – crowding, misaligned jaws, impacted teeth, gaps, and more. By treating these problems while their smile is still changing, an orthodontist can help guide their dentition and jaw development to prevent bigger (and more expensive) issues down the road.

Early intervention saves time and headaches for you and your kid! By getting small Colorado smiles into Inspire Orthodontics early on, we can also keep a close eye on them in case treatment is necessary down the road.

Parents, Patients, & Phase 1 Orthodontics

Orthodontic treatment can be scary for parents and patients alike, no matter your age. Understanding the benefits and possibilities of Phase 1 treatment can help make the process inspiring, not intimidating! Let’s examine what kinds of treatments are most common for our youngest smile patients.

Braces for Kids

happy kid with braces on teethWhen we picture metal braces or ceramic braces, most of us think of growing teens with brackets and wires. But the truth is that adults and young kids can also be great candidates for braces treatment. Spending a short time in braces can help build a foundation for healthy tooth growth and jaw development.

Phase 1 braces are typically worn for 6 to 12 months while your little one has mixed dentition (a combination of baby teeth and permanent teeth). During this time, your child hasn’t finished growing, and their baby teeth are creating the path for permanent teeth to come in. By treating issues with spacing, crowding, and beyond, Phase 1 braces pave the way for healthier growth.

Baby teeth complications can also have a major impact on speaking, eating, and even breathing. When your child is struggling with the side effects of a bad bite, interceptive orthodontics can treat these issues without waiting for all of their permanent teeth to erupt.

Guiding Growth

Beyond braces, there are other orthodontic appliances that can help create inspiring smiles at a young age. These appliances are designed to guide jaw and tooth development while preventing more complicated orthodontic issues in the future.

Palatal Expanders –  A palatal expander is an orthodontic device used to treat a narrow upper jaw, widening it to reduce crowding and prevent impacted teeth. Often, palatal expanders can reduce the chance that children will need jaw surgery or more extensive treatment later on. The expander gently pushes apart the two halves of the palate, allowing new bone to grow and widen the upper jaw.

Space Maintainers – When a tooth is lost too early, it can cause a hiccup in dentition growth. Over time, the surrounding baby teeth can drift into the empty space left behind, creating issues when it’s time for the adult tooth to make an appearance. To ward off potential problems with permanent teeth, your orthodontist may recommend a space maintainer, a permanent or removable device that keeps the space open in the meantime.

Ortho Observation

Visiting the orthodontist at age 7 has tons of benefits and one of the best is that you can start your orthodontic observation program early. Even if your little one doesn’t need braces or an appliance, the doctor will be able to periodically see your child and keep an eye on their teeth while they’re growing. If your orthodontist spots anything suspicious, it’s much easier to catch tooth troubles before they become complex, costly orthodontic concerns.