The beginning of an adolescent’s orthodontic treatment is carefully timed, usually once a child has lost all their baby teeth and permanent teeth are well on their way into position. However, it’s often easy to see by the way your little kid’s teeth are erupting that they will probably need some orthodontic intervention along the way. For some kids, this kind of treatment begins early.
Understanding Braces for Kids
Braces for kids who haven’t even reached a double-digit age are known as Phase 1 or interceptive orthodontics. This type of treatment doesn’t include a full course of braces and is brief – sometimes less than a year. The goal of interceptive orthodontics is to address any alignment problems, bite complications, or development issues while your child’s jaw is still growing. At this young age, the jaw is more pliable, and working it into a healthier position may allow for the bone to be friendlier to erupting teeth and make room for them.
Types of braces for kids include space maintainers, expanders, a tongue crib, and upper braces. The hope of many parents is that these measures will contribute to a simplified, shorter, or less costly orthodontic treatment when it comes time for teen braces. For kids, a major perk is that this kind of intervention could tackle their current issues so effectively that they might be eligible for Invisalign Teen when the time comes.
Problems Addressed by Braces for Kids
If you suspect your child has some serious orthodontic treatment in their future, seeing an orthodontist sooner rather than later is a good idea. As it stands, the recommended time to have an orthodontic evaluation is by age 7 or 8. Your orthodontist can evaluate whether early intervention would be helpful.
Some of the problems that phase 1 orthodontics can address include:
- Jaw position
- Growth of the jawbone
- Side effects of thumb sucking or pacifier use
- Protruding front teeth
- Functional issues
- Airway concerns
- Making a kid feel better about how he or she looks
Making Sense of Your Little Kid’s Erupting Teeth
While the act of getting baby teeth, losing baby teeth, and getting permanent teeth seems like one natural developmental stage after another, sometimes a little guidance and coaxing is important along the way.
The goals of Phase 1 orthodontics are to prevent serious oral health problems from developing and potentially simplify and shorten future orthodontic treatments (which means less cost for parents and reduced discomfort for the child).
Once the face and jaws have finished growing, moving things around gets more difficult, time-consuming, and uncomfortable.
If your young child’s mouthful of big and little teeth seems complicated and problematic, don’t despair. Your kid is growing every day and there is always a possibility the problems will work themselves out. In the meantime, make your child’s oral health a priority. Straight teeth are easier to take care of, which means healthier teeth and fewer cavities or other oral health problems.