Early Treatment

Why Early Treatment?

In the past, orthodontic patients were told to wait until all of the permanent teeth had erupted (about age 12 or 13) before any braces could be put on. Unfortunately, many of the problems that may be easily corrected at a younger age cannot be fully corrected if treatment is delayed until the teenage years. Just as a younger tree can be adapted and encouraged to grow in a particular direction, the jaws and facial bones of children may also be adapted and encouraged to grow in more desirable directions than can the facial structures of older children and teenagers. Today we know that younger children (age 7-11) can benefit in many ways from early orthodontic care.

Because not all of the permanent teeth are in, Phase I is not only about straightening teeth (although this is usually a side benefit for the permanent teeth that are present). The first phase of treatment is about BIG things. Jaw problems, horizontal and vertical bite problems, growth modification, expansion, and habit control. These are all things that can be very difficult to treat once children have reached the age of 12 or 13, when most of the growth has already occurred.

In many cases, extractions may be avoided in younger children with crowded teeth by developing the arches. Although expansion may be accomplished in older children (12+) and even some adults, it is generally less effective and much less stable than arch development at a younger age.

Children in the 7-11 age range are becoming very aware of their appearances. Children establish ideas about themselves at this age that are based on what others say and notice about them. Early treatment can have a dramatic effect on the self-esteem of a child, particularly one that has a noticeable orthodontic problem.

Most growth related problems require a certain level of commitment and compliance with orthodontic instructions. Younger children are generally very compliant.

As a general rule, treatment that is broken into a first and second phase lasts no longer than if the treatment were postponed until all permanent teeth are in. Phase I lasts about 12 months and Phase II usually lasts about 12 months. Patients that elect to wait until all permanent teeth are present generally complete treatment in about 24 months, or the same total time required to complete two phases. Costs are comparable as well.

Not all patients can benefit from an early phase of treatment. However, the first phase of treatment ALWAYS simplifies the treatment once all permanent teeth erupt. Research and many years of experience have proven that early treatment, when indicated, can lead to better and more stable orthodontic results.

Pre-Orthodontic Guidance Program

Until the optimal time for treatment has arrived, we recommend pre-orthodontic guidance for your child. The following information outlines why this program will be beneficial for you and your child, and what you can expect.

Program Benefits:

  • Enables us to monitor growth and development.
  • Intercepts any potential problems at an early age, and allows guided facial growth, tooth eruption and tooth positions.
  • Minimizes more extensive and lengthy treatment at a later age.
  • Services are performed at no cost for your child's benefit.
  • Supports a team approach with your child's dentist regarding future dental needs.
  • Advantage of pre-orthodontic guidance by one of the few orthodontic practices in the area who provide care at this comprehensive level.

Program Appointments:

  • We will examine your child on a periodic basis, usually at three to six month intervals, and explain recommendations and future possibilities for treatment.
  • Visits are a courtesy service to our families and are performed at no charge.
  • All necessary photos, x-rays, and check-up visits needed in our office are also done as a courtesy service, until point in time when necessary treatment is determined.
  • When treatment is indicated, a treatment plan will be determined and the details explained.

Please schedule your appointments as recommended so we can make certain growth and development are occurring properly.

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