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What is Early Orthodontic Treatment?

child smiles with mother after an early orthodontic treatment exam

Many parents wonder, “is early orthodontic treatment necessary?” To understand the benefits of early orthodontic treatment, it’s important to understand what early treatment entails and how it benefits young patients.

The early years are actually ideal for beginning orthodontic treatment. The truth is, early orthodontic treatment can improve your child’s self-esteem, quality of sleep, and overall quality of life as he or she grows.

Parents may fear that their orthodontist will recommend an unnecessary treatment for their child. While some orthodontists may operate this way, at Cooper Orthodontics, we will never recommend unnecessary treatment. We are completely transparent with our patients, and we only want what’s best for you and your child.

What is Early Orthodontic Treatment and Why Is It Ideal?

Orthodontics treats misalignment of the teeth, on the surface and below the gums. Many people believe braces and Invisalign® serve a purely cosmetic purpose, but a person’s orthodontic condition can affect much more than their appearance.

Tooth and bite misalignments may not always seem problematic at first, but as these conditions continue to develop, they can pose issues. Problematic orthodontic conditions can make it more challenging to chew, speak, sleep, and maintain oral hygiene.

Early orthodontic treatment is ideal because it works with the child’s natural development. As permanent teeth are still emerging and settling, they’re increasingly susceptible to alignment corrections by use of an orthodontic appliance or various types of braces.

It’s advised that children visit an orthodontist by age 7. Although people of all ages can benefit from orthodontic treatment, around the age of 7 is ideal for orthodontists to detect problematic conditions before they progress. Progressed conditions may end up requiring jaw surgery or longer treatment periods to correct stabilized teeth.

Early Orthodontic Treatment Pros and Cons

Pros of Early Orthodontic Treatment

  1. In many cases, kids who have undergone orthodontic treatment by their mid-teen years will no longer need orthodontic care as adults. Early orthodontic care also tends to be less expensive and less complex than adult care.
  2. Early orthodontic treatment reduces the chances of gum disease and tooth decay related to problematic orthodontic conditions. Conditions like crowded teeth pose an increased risk of disease, as maintaining oral health is more challenging when teeth overlap each other.
  3. Treating orthodontic conditions early can foster a healthy self-esteem and sense of self-confidence in children. Children will feel more inclined to smile when their teeth have a healthy appearance.
  4. As the permanent teeth are still erupting, early orthodontics can require shorter treatment periods. Early treatment enables the child’s jaw to expand sufficiently to accommodate all permanent teeth, while simultaneously guiding them into alignment. Expansion of the palate can lead to greater sleep quality, greater breathing ability, and greater comfort when chewing food.

Cons of Early Orthodontic Treatment

  1. Kids undergoing orthodontic treatment must establish hygiene practices to maintain oral health. They must brush twice a day and floss each night to prevent bacteria buildup. Parents must ensure that their child is practicing good oral hygiene during (and after) early orthodontic treatment.
  2. Pre-teens may be concerned with the appearance of orthodontic treatment. It’s no secret that teens and pre-teens are hypersensitive about their appearance. Some young patients express a preference for a treatment that isn’t as obvious as traditional, metal braces. That’s why we offer Invisalign® Teen! We want all of our patients to feel confident throughout their orthodontic treatment, no matter their age.

As with anything in life, there are cons to early orthodontic treatment, but the pros of early orthodontic treatment far outweigh the cons of treatment.

What is 2-Phase Orthodontic Treatment?

Two-phase orthodontic treatment means orthodontic care is broken down into distinct phases. Phase 1 of treatment begins before all permanent teeth have emerged and stabilized. Phase 1 treatment focuses on the development of the jaws and the amount of space available for permanent teeth.

Palatal expanders are a common part of phase 1 orthodontic care. These appliances gradually widen the upper jaw, increasing the amount of space available for permanent teeth. Palatal expanders can correct crossbites, eliminate the potential of crowded teeth, and increase a child’s breathing ability.

Phase 2 orthodontic treatment takes place after phase 1 is complete. Phase 2 care focuses on the alignment of the teeth. The second phase gives the patient a strong, functional alignment with a proper bite and a healthy overall appearance.

If the space in a child’s mouth isn’t sufficient for a full set of adult teeth, early orthodontic treatment is ideal to encourage permanent teeth to grow in the proper alignment. While the minor cons of early orthodontic treatment may last throughout the treatment period, the pros of early treatment will last a lifetime.

At your child’s free orthodontic exam with us, our orthodontists will assess your child’s teeth, bite, and jaw to identify any potentially problematic conditions. If we determine that your child can benefit from early orthodontic treatment, we will explain everything you need to know about the realities of this treatment.

As a true family practice, it is our goal to ensure that you are provided with the answers that enable you to make an informed decision for you and your child. Request your free exam with us at any of our locations in South Florida today!