Dr. Phil Doleac and our Magic Smiles team recommend that all children have an orthodontic exam at our Beaverton, Portland, or Scappoose, OR orthodontic practice at age seven. Very rarely is treatment needed at this time, but by taking a complimentary panorex radiograph, we are able to determine if any permanent teeth are missing and give parents an idea of what is ahead for their child when it comes to orthodontic treatment.
What is early treatment?
Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two will begin around age ten or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct three main problems:
- Severe jaw discrepancies (front to back)
- Cross-bites (Upper teeth on the inside of the lower teeth)
- Severe crowding that is causing social issues for the child
Most of these problems are genetic in origin—inherited genes for small jaws from one parent and large teeth from the other—but can also be caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.
How can early treatment benefit your child?
Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.
How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all permanent teeth around age 13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Your child continues sucking his or her thumb after age five
- Speech impediments
- Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
- Teeth that don't come together in a normal manner or even at all
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our Beaverton, Portland, or Scappoose, OR orthodontic practice and schedule an appointment with Dr. Doleac. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child's smile.