Braces Orthodontics - Pasadena and Santa Clarita Orthodontist - Gault Orthodontics


Early Treatment (Ages 7-10)

The American Association of Orthodontists suggests an initial orthodontic evaluation at age 7: Why?Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment, as different problems are better treated at different ages. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but we can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment. However, a short “Phase One” treatment is sometimes needed between ages 7-10 to help ensure healthy growth and development. At your child’s dental visits, your dentist should be able to tell you when the optimal time might be to see an orthodontist.What makes this the optimal time for screening?By the age of 7, the first adult molars have erupted, or come through the gums, establishing the bite of the back teeth. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships, as you bite and slide your teeth around. Also, the presence of erupting incisors (front teeth) can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or overly-gummy smiles.What is Phase One (early) Treatment?Phase One treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. Phase One treatment usually lasts about 6-12 months. While the ultimate goal of orthodontic treatment with children is the elevation of self-esteem and self-confidence, the primary objective for Phase One treatment is to address significant skeletal problems to prevent them from becoming more severe. This is typically reserved for width discrepancies between the two jaws, bony asymmetries, or Class III growth tendency (the tendency for the lower jaw to outgrow the upper jaw).Why screen by age 7?The posterior bite is established when the first molars (permanent back teeth) erupt, or come up through the gums, around age six. At this time, Dr. Henson can evaluate the relationship of both the front and back teeth, as well as discover any functional shifts that may occur when the jaws slide and the teeth come together. Because the incisors (front teeth) will be erupting around this age, certain problems like crowding, deep bites, open bites thumb or finger sucking habits, and some facial asymmetries can be detected early.For some, a timely screening will lead to significant treatment benefits; for most, this initial screening will provide a guide for a long-term treatment plan.The Benefits of Early TreatmentFor those patients who have clear indications for early intervention, early treatment presents the opportunity to:• Influence jaw growth in a positive manner.• Harmonize width of the dental arches.• Improve eruption patterns.• Lower risk of trauma to protruded upper incisors.• Correct harmful oral habits.• Improve aesthetics and self-esteem.• Simplify and/or shorten treatment time for later corrective orthodontics.• Reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth.• Improve some speech problems.• Preserve or gain space for erupting permanent teeth.Numerous clinical research trials have demonstrated that untreated malocclusions (an improper bite) can result in a variety of problems. Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease. Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping or being knocked out. Cross bites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear. And, open bites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments. Ultimately, orthodontic treatment does more than make a beautiful smile: it creates a healthy, functioning bite.

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