Bite problems (malocclusions) can be corrected and smiles enhanced by orthodontic treatment at any age. But there is an optimum age at which to begin most orthodontic procedures to ensure that the best possible result is achieved within the shortest period of time with the least expense. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends initial orthodontic evaluation for every child at about age seven. While most children are not ready for orthodontic treatment at that age, this early assessment provides the opportunity to estimate future treatment needs and ensures that treatment, when necessary, is started in a timely fashion.
Pre-Orthodontic Guidance is an important preliminary phase of orthodontic treatment, in which pre-adolescent patients will be seen periodically for monitoring of facial growth, charting of permanent tooth eruption, and institution of appropriate preventive measures. These steps allow us to minimize treatment complexity and duration by identifying the optimum time to begin malocclusion correction.
Pre-Orthodontic Guidance office visits vary in frequency depending on individual patient needs and growth status. As an example, it is common for Pre-Orthodontic Guidance appointments to be scheduled on an annual or semi-annual basis, with visits scheduled more frequently as the need for active orthodontic treatment approaches. As a courtesy, the doctors at Orthodontic Associates of Mercer Island provide Pre-Orthodontic Guidance at no fee.
Early Bite Correction (Pre-Adolescent Orthodontic Treatment)
Some bite problems are most easily and effectively corrected at an early age; in occasional cases even before any permanent teeth have come in to place. These problems fall in several categories such as:
- Underbite (cross-bite) of the front teeth that is due to imbalance between upper and lower jaw size.
- Distortion of teeth and jaws due to persistent thumb or finger sucking.
- Narrow upper jaw with cross-bite of the back teeth and jaw joint (TMJ) shift during chewing.
- Prominent upper front teeth caused by overgrowth of the upper jaw or undergrowth of the lower jaw or a combination of the two.
- Severe crowding of the teeth due to large size of the teeth relative to small size of the jaws.
- Deep bite with lower front teeth biting in to gum tissue behind upper front teeth.
Here are some of the reasons that early orthodontic treatment might be right for your pre-adolescent youngster:
- Difference between upper and lower jaw size can be corrected by changing the amount and direction of jaw growth (facial orthopedics or functional orthopedics) during the rapid development that takes place in pre-adolescence.
- Space can be gained for large teeth most easily when the facial structures are relatively immature thus often reducing the need for removal of permanent teeth.
- Bite balance can be achieved before jaw joint (TMJ) function is adversely impacted.
- Risk of fracture, displacement, or loss of protruding upper front teeth by traumatic injury can be reduced or eliminated.
- Risk of gum recession because of tooth crowding or deep bite can be reduced or eliminated.
- Complexity, duration, and cost of adolescent orthodontic treatment can often be kept to a minimum.
- The Invisalign™ Teen system of clear removable aligners can often be used for adolescent orthodontic treatment when pre-adolescent correction of major bite problems has been successfully completed.
If you would like more information about whether Pre-Orthodontic Guidance or Early Orthodontic Treatment is right for your child please call Orthodontic Associates of Mercer Island at (206) 232-9600 to schedule a free EXAMINATION APOINTMENT.