While there’s debate aplenty about every aspect of caring for children, one thing is very certain:
early orthodontic treatment is valuable,
saves time and angst (for you and your child), and is an extremely worthwhile investment.
Cynics may see early orthodontic assessment as over servicing and more bubble wrap for the modern day child, but it’s so much more than that.
Early orthodontic treatment, also known as Phase One, aims to correct more serious bite related problems, as well as guide the jaw’s growth pattern. At it’s most effective, early treatment helps make extra room in the mouth for permanent teeth to be placed properly as they come in. Long term, this is important for growth and development, health, physical and financial reasons.
This might be difficult to understand, especially when
braces and other orthodontic treatments
are typically associated with teenage years. It’s worked this way in the past, so why bring treatment forward? Great question, so let’s answer it.
If you’re sitting on the fence and thinking early orthodontic assessment is a ploy by orthodontists, let me share my five reasons why early assessment is worth a visit to an orthodontist who understands you and your child’s needs.
#1 Future issues can be identified and pre-emptive steps taken (in good time)
My number one reason that makes early assessment worthwhile is the that it’s pre-emptive.
Through early assessment an orthodontist can evaluate a child’s existing and incoming teeth and determine whether or not early treatment might be necessary. It is also helpful to determine early whether your child has any problems with the jaw alignment and bite. The earlier the identification of such problems the more ideal the treatment timing will be which results in more successful outcomes and can save you time and money. It can even eliminate the need for surgery later!
orthodontic treatment as an adult,
I can confirm early treatment is a vastly better approach.
At the time of an early assessment – the period between seven and ten years – the incisors and first permanent molars are usually present in the mouth. This gives the orthodontist an opportunity to check for a developing “bad bite” or malocclusion. When these teeth aren’t coming in correctly, problems such as crowding, impacted teeth, deep bites, crossbites and open bites may emerge.
Assessing early means issues can be detected and ultimately prevented, even though treatment often doesn’t begin until one to five years after the initial evaluation.
#2 Early orthodontic treatment can utilise their natural growth for better outcomes
Early orthodontic treatment begins while a child’s jaw bones are still soft. These bones do not harden until children reach their mid/late teens. As the bones are still pliable at this time, corrective procedures can be carried out which if left until later means major jaw surgery is the only way for treatment.
In orthodontics, we call this an interceptive measure.
What does this mean? It means appropriate early treatment is an effective interceptive measure that lays the foundation for a healthy and well-functioning mouth in adulthood. And that can save a whole lot of heartache and expense down the track.
#3 Early orthodontic treatment can be more cost effective long term
Earlier rather than delayed treatment can be financially beneficial too. This is a big consideration for most families.
As a result of preventive measures which may help with jaw growth or tooth eruption further treatment can be much less complicated or in best case scenario eliminated. This is represented in a corresponding lower treatment cost, making the whole exercise more manageable, both for your child and for you.
#4 Early orthodontic treatment is better for your child’s confidence
We all remember that kid at school who had bad teeth (Ah, hello! That was me.) For many, the experience wasn’t fun.
For some children, early treatment can prevent physical and emotional trauma arising from protruding front teeth. It can be a legitimate way to reduce emotional distress if a child is being teased and feeling self-conscious about how they look.
One of the big things the Specialty Orthodontics team strives for is building confidence in our patients, because doing this helps change the way our young (and older) patients feel about themselves. If it’s your child who’s experiencing difficulties, you’ll know it’s worth every cent.
#5 Early orthodontic treatment can mean good oral hygiene (and that means fewer dental problems later on)
It’s a little known fact that straight teeth keep you healthier, while severely crowded teeth can prevent good oral hygiene.
Straighten teeth early and you’ll not only save yourself the hassle of needing expensive dental and orthodontic treatment, you’ll also save yourself a bucket of cash. Without the need for restorative treatment such as fillings and root canal work because teeth have decayed you can use your hard earned dollars for other important things in life.
Does your child qualify for an early orthodontic assessment?
If you think your child needs an early orthodontic treatment, or you’re not sure if they do, it’s best to talk to an orthodontist. You could also read our post on 9 signs your child needs an early orthodontic assessment.
Only a specialist orthodontist has the training, experience and knowledge to determine the most appropriate treatment options and the best time to start treatment. When you see a specialist orthodontist you can be confident that your child is in the best hands.
Dr Sarah Dan is an orthodontist and the founder of Specialty Orthodontics, Adelaide’s leading orthodontic clinic.
Through her experience as a clinician and having had orthodontic treatment herself, Sarah truly understands the orthodontics from the patient’s perspective. She ‘gets’ it and has developed her unique 5-Step Process to help patients navigate the treatment journey to a confident, beautiful smile.