The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children come and receive an orthodontic consultation at seven years of age. I very rarely recommend treatment this young, but it allows me to see if there are problems such as missing permanent teeth, teeth that are unable to erupt, and skeletal malformations. Anything in the mild to moderate category does not typically require treatment at an early age. My goal for phase 1 treatment is to prevent problems from becoming severe.
People come to our office seeking a second opinion in regards to Phase I treatment more than anything else. Many local orthodontists recommend a palate expander for every child that walks through their door. Consultants have told me I could make a lot more money if I adopted this practice, but the majority of the time this treatment is completely unnecessary. More often than not, I tell parents the desired outcome of a beautiful smile can be achieved more efficiently in terms of cost and time with one treatment once all permanent teeth are in.
So when do I recommend early treatment?
- If a child has a cross bite (when upper teeth fit inside lower teeth when biting down).
- If permanent teeth are blocked out or impacted. In this situation treatment is necessary to make sure permanent teeth come in.
- If there is severe overcrowding or overbite. If upper teeth sit too far over lower teeth it puts the front teeth at an increased risk of trauma. Also, certain corrective measures to treat overbite are more effective while children are growing. After teens have completed growth certain treatments are no longer an option.
- If there are social concerns. Many times parents want to clean up the train wreck of permanent front teeth and not wait a couple of years for all the others to come in. I put braces on two of my three children so their teeth looked nice before they were ready for phase 2 of treatment. I am happy to provide this service at a parent’s request.
MY PROMISE TO ALL PATIENTS: I will make sure you know if orthodontic treatment is a cosmetic decision or a decision to ensure the health of permanent teeth. I will not over-treat or recommend unnecessary procedures, and I will let you know the most efficient way to achieve the desired result.
Smile, Life is Good.