What Is Early Orthodontic Treatment?

You know you’ll have to pack your kids in the car and head over to Labbe Family Orthodontics at some point. But when? How young is too young and how old is too old? The truth is that orthodontic care can begin at any age. Young or old, it’s never too late to work towards a beautiful smile.

That being said, experts say the earlier the better. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, 7 years old is the perfect age for a child’s first orthodontic screening—about the same time many kids get their first adult molars. Others recommend that parents bring their children into the office sometime between the ages of 8 and 10. While it’s up to each parent to choose the right age, there are a few things to consider when making a decision.

Why So Young?

Seven may seem young to many parents, but there are good reasons for the recommendation. It’s sometimes easier to correct problems at the outset when the mouth is still growing and the body can adapt to changes. Wait until adulthood, and relatively simple problems can turn into major ordeals. In the long run, early treatment can save both time and money, eliminating the need for complex and costly treatment later on, after the mouth has stopped growing.

Early screening also leaves room for planning. Whether or not a child receives immediate treatment, the doctors at Labbe Family Orthodontics can start to monitor your child’s development at an early age. That allows us to develop a long-term strategy for fixing problems, which leads to more comprehensive care.

Finally, early screening gives parents a sense of what’s to come. Knowing what to expect allows families to create a budget and start saving money years in advance.

When Is Early Intervention Necessary?

Most kids won’t receive treatment until well after they celebrate their 7th birthday. Typically, orthodontic care starts between the ages of 9 to 14. That being said, some children require early intervention in order to correct long-term problems.

How do you know when to schedule an appointment at Labbe Family Orthodontics? In general, it’s good to schedule an evaluation if your child:

  • Has an unusual bite (i.e. when the upper and lower teeth don’t come together properly)
  • Sucks their thumb, which can cause long-term problems
  • Snores or breathes through their mouth, which can indicate a deeper problem
  • Has teeth that protrude or erupt at strange angles, which may require early correction
  • Displays severe crowding, which can benefit from early treatment and planning

Children with severe crossbites and severe crowding may find early treatment particularly beneficial. Here’s why:

  • Severe Crossbites – A crossbite is a condition that occurs when the upper row of teeth falls behind the lower row of teeth upon closing. Fixing a severe crossbite at a young age is relatively easy. A device called a palatal expander may be used to widen the upper jaw so the upper teeth can shift to a normal position. Since a child’s jaw is already expanding, the device simply aids the normal growth process. The result is a comparatively gradual and painless expansion of the jaw. Left uncorrected, a crossbite may require oral surgery later in life.
  • Severe Crowding – By the age of 7, an orthodontist can tell whether a child will suffer from a serious case of overcrowding. Most children have already developed their first adult molars. In many cases, incisors have already erupted. That makes it easy for an orthodontist to determine whether a patient will develop severe crowding. Normal crowding isn’t a major problem—treatment can usually wait. Severe crowding, on the other hand, may require early treatment.

How Do I Schedule An Appointment?

With offices in Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton, and Greenbelt, Labbe Family Orthodontics makes it easy for busy families to make room in their schedules for an orthodontic screening. Whether your child is 7 or 13, we’ll help them plan for a future of great smiles. Give us a call to set an appointment. Our friendly staff will be happy to hear from you.