What Are the Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment

Sep 15, 2023

The importance of early orthodontic treatment

Aristotle once said, Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” The same is true of smiles. Early orthodontic treatment has a plethora of benefits, all of which set children up for better oral health now and in the future. Good smiles formed as kids come with a host of advantages.

Early orthodontic treatment, which is also called interceptive treatment, is essentially any kind of orthodontic service performed when a child still has some baby teeth. It may not entail getting braces early—orthodontics is about so much more than braces! There are other problems your orthodontist looks for before braces are needed that may require early orthodontic treatment.

It cant be overstated enough: early orthodontics is critical. When identified and treated early, oral problems are much easier to correct. Catching issues early can make all the difference for your child, impacting the ease and comfort of their journey through orthodontics as well as their future oral health.

When to make your childs first appointment

We recommend that children visit the orthodontist at 7 years of age. At this point, children usually have enough of their permanent teeth to allow the doctor to properly evaluate their teeth, jaw, and bite. However, if you notice problems before your child is 7 years old, you may need to visit the office even sooner.

After an initial check of their teeth, jaw, and oral health, your orthodontist will likely recommend one of two possible next steps for your child. If the orthodontist does not see problems that require early treatment but expects that orthodontic services like braces or Invisalign® will be needed in the future, they will recommend that your child return to the office for periodic checkups. They will want to keep an eye on the development of their teeth, jaw, and bite. However, if they identify problems that would benefit from early orthodontic treatment, they will encourage you to start treating the problems right away.

What happens before braces?

Many people equate orthodontic care with braces. However, there are a few different stages to orthodontic treatment—braces are only one of them. Before a patient gets braces, the orthodontist needs to prepare their teeth and jaw to ensure that their braces treatment will be successful. There may be other orthodontic devices or procedures the orthodontist needs to perform before a patient can get braces. The orthodontist also needs to check for any other oral health problems that may impact the effectiveness of braces. This is a crucial part of the orthodontic process for every child and adult patient.

Why early treatment might be needed

Why early treatment might be needed

Even if children still have baby teeth, the orthodontist may recommend early orthodontic treatment if they notice certain problems with their teeth, jaw, or bite. These include:

  • Underbite or crossbite
  • Teeth crowding
  • Gaps between teeth
  • Extra or missing teeth
  • Oral habits that are affecting teeth
  • Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all

Orthodontists are trained to identify problems early—they may see an issue you were not aware of. In other instances, you may be the first to notice problems. Orthodontics is no different when it comes to kids—it takes a village!

Signs to take your child to the orthodontist

Even if your child is younger than 7 years old, if you notice any of the following oral problems, they may be a good candidate for early orthodontic treatment:

  • Early loss of baby teeth
  • Speech impediments
  • Trouble biting or chewing
  • Snoring or mouth-breathing
  • Protruding top or bottom teeth
  • Thumb-sucking after 5 years old
  • Jaw shifting

The different kinds of interceptive orthodontic treatment

The different kinds of interceptive orthodontic treatment

There are many options when it comes to early orthodontic treatment. Appliances may be fixed or removable, though for some early services, no appliance is necessary. In other circumstances, your doctor may recommend removing teeth. Every patient is different. If they need early orthodontic treatment, your doctor will advise you and your young patient on what services are required for your best result.

The benefits of early intervention

There are many potential benefits to early orthodontic treatment, from easing the braces process to addressing speech impediments. After examining your child, your orthodontist will tell you more about how early treatment will help your child specifically. Read on to learn about some of the benefits you and your child can expect from early orthodontic treatment.

Guide adult teeth

Teeth gravitate towards open spaces. If your child loses baby teeth early, their surrounding teeth may start to shift, which increases the likelihood of their permanent teeth coming in crooked. If this is the case with your child, your doctor may recommend orthodontic appliances that can begin straightening their teeth even before braces. These devices will keep surrounding teeth in place and help guide adult teeth into the correct position.

Correct bite and speech problems

In addition to straightening teeth with technology like braces and Invisalign, orthodontists are also experts when it comes to bites. When a patients jaw—or their teeth and jaw—do not align, this is known as malocclusion, or a bad bite. For the patient, bad bites can wreak havoc, leading to headaches, pain, and discomfort, as well as causing teeth to come in crookedly. In some cases, especially with children, there may not be enough room for teeth to come in at all.

This is one case where early intervention, undertaken well before braces, is so important. Early orthodontic treatment includes the use of devices like palate expanders, which gently increase the amount of space in the mouth for teeth to come in. Early treatment like this is especially effective when a patient is still a child since their bones and tissues are still developing and are therefore more malleable.

Speech impediments can also be a result of a bad bite. Improving these issues early wont only help with the proper development of your childs teeth and mouth as they grow into their teens—it can also help them flourish socially and academically thanks to strong, confident speech.

Improve oral health and prevent future complications

Correcting your childs teeth and bite isnt just about setting them up for improved confidence and self-assurance in their teens and adulthood—its also about ensuring a lifetime of oral health, free from costly and potentially painful complications. With proper preparation, braces are much more likely to be successful. And a successful braces experience doesnt only lead to a beautiful smile—it also means teeth are easier to clean. When dental hygiene is easier, cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease are much easier to avoid. Straight teeth and oral health go hand in hand.

And finally, the reality is, the longer you wait to address oral issues, the more complicated—and costly—they become. Acting early will ultimately save your family time and money, and it will save your child from undue and avoidable discomfort down the road.

The lifelong benefits of orthodontic treatment

The lifelong benefits of orthodontic treatment

Every day, orthodontics helps millions of people live healthier, happier lives. A beautiful smile is a gift that keeps giving in all realms of life, improving health, relationships, and performance at school and work. While it may seem like your child is too young to visit the orthodontist, trust the experts. Early detection and correction of issues is so important. Once all permanent teeth are in and facial growth is largely complete, addressing issues gets much more complicated.

At Hutta Orthodontic Specialists, we have decades of experience supporting our youngest patients on their path toward healthy smiles and happy lives. In addition to early care, we offer Damon Braces and clear aligners to help patients of all ages—children, teens, and adults— achieve their smile goals.

Schedule your appointment today!