Ladera, CA – Did you know that the recommended age for a child to visit an orthodontist for the first time is when they’re seven years old? Some people may think this is a bit early since most commonly associate braces with the teen years.
Seven is actually the perfect time to begin a relationship with an orthodontist. At this age most children have a good mix of permanent and baby teeth and the orthodontist can begin to get an idea of how the smile and bite is taking shape. Through the use of digital X-rays, digital photos of the face and teeth, and a physical examination, the orthodontist can get a clear picture of how the permanent teeth are erupting and check to see the jaw is growing properly.
“While orthodontic treatment can begin at any age we often see better results when we can begin early if we see problems or issues,” says Dr. Robert Gire of Ladera Orthodontics. “If we initiate orthodontic treatment while the jaw is still growing, we can work to guide the jaw to allow adequate space for permanent teeth to erupt and lessen the need for more complicated treatments later.”
Most children won’t require orthodontic treatment at a young age but for those that do, conservative two phase treatment may save families thousands of dollars in the long run.
In the first phase, Dr. Gire and Dr. Salmassian will work to guide the growth of the jaw. Braces, expanders, or other appliances depending on the patient’s needs will be used to ensure the jaws have adequate space for the permanent teeth to erupt. The orthodontist can correct overcrowding, crossbites, overbites, and underbites, without the need for extractions or jaw surgery that might be needed once the jaw has stopped growing.
There will be a resting period in between these two phases to allow the permanent teeth to erupt. During this time you’ll have regular checkups with your orthodontist to monitor how the teeth are erupting so the second phase of treatment can begin at just the right time.
Once all of the permanent teeth have erupted phase two treatment can begin. This is the phase of treatment that will involve braces to guide the teeth to their ideal locations.
“The goal of orthodontic treatment is to create a healthier smile that functions properly,” says Dr. Gire. “The goal of phase one treatment is to help the jaw develop properly to accommodate all of the erupting teeth and to ensure the upper and lower jaws fit together properly. Phase two treatment will guide the teeth to the proper locations to create a harmonious, straight smile.”
When two phase treatment is indicated, beginning the first phase at the right time can often make the second phase shorter and less complicated. Phase one treatment will guide the jaw to allow for a better environment for the permanent teeth to erupt, thereby making the straightening phase of treatment more efficient.
By visiting an orthodontist at the age of seven, problems that could potentially worsen can be spotted and corrected quickly before they cause any bigger issues. Two phase orthodontic treatment, when indicated, can create beautiful, healthy, and properly functioning smiles that can last a lifetime.