Correcting bad bites and tooth alignment issues early on can save your kids a lot of trouble down the road. Here are the facts about basic orthodontic care.
At what age should my child first see an orthodontist? Around age seven, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. By this point, their first permanent molars and some of their permanent incisors should be erupting, so the orthodontist will be able to look for potential problems with jaw growth, teeth crowding, and emerging teeth.
Why then and not later? By keeping a close eye on your child’s development from the get-go, your orthodontist will be better able to make beneficial corrections and address potential problems before they arise. If you intercept issues while growth is still occurring, you’ll get the best possible result and the least amount of treatment time and expense.
I was told my child needs Phase I treatment. What’s that? Phase I treatments, which are typically timed during the elementary school years, do exactly what we’re talking about above –
they nip problems in the bud before they appear. They can include anything from a palate expander to partial braces, and the phase usually lasts anywhere from a year to 21 months. Addressing significant problems early can prevent them from becoming more severe or negatively affecting jaw growth, reduce the need for permanent tooth extractions, and improve the child’s self-esteem.
What about Phrase II treatment? The good news is, if your child has already had Phase I treatment, Phrase II probably won’t take as long. Phase II, which normally takes place between the ages of 12-15, is essentially what you would think of as “normal” orthodontic treatment – braces to straighten the teeth and finish aligning the jaw. Treatment time can take anywhere between 1 and 2½ years. The duration and timing will depend largely on your son or daughter’s individual needs.