Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children Sudbury, MA

Braces are often seen as a “teenager” thing, but orthodontic treatment for your children should start years earlier for best results.

You may wonder what the difference is between early orthodontic treatment and regular orthodontic treatment for children, and whether your child needs early treatment. We will answer these questions and also explain how early treatment can benefit your child in the long run.

When Should I First Bring My Child to the Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age 7. At this point the orthodontist will evaluate whether your child needs orthodontic treatment.

Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age 8 or 9 (Phase Two treatment starts around age 11 or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite. Early treatment also makes room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the need for extractions in the future.

Sudbury MA
Sudbury MA

Why Would My Child Need Two-Phase Treatment?

Children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. An upper jaw that is growing too much or is too narrow can be recognized at an early age. If children over the age of 6 are found to have this jaw discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. Also, if children around the age of 8 have crowded front teeth, early treatment can prevent the need to extract permanent teeth later.

What Are the Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones harden and stop growing. Thus, many issues are easier to treat in children. 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 reduce the need for adult orthodontics, future extractions, and surgery.

How Can I Tell if My Child Needs Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment is important for kids, not just for their current and future health, but also for their mental health. When kids are growing, having issues with their smile or speech can reduce confidence and lead to negative psychological impacts.

Here are signs your child might benefit from early orthodontic treatment:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (children typically start losing teeth around age 5, and will have all permanent teeth by age 13)
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb sucking after age 5
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and 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 the mouth (crossbites)
  • Crowded front teeth around age 7 or 8
Sudbury MA
Early Age Dental Care Sudbury MA

How Does Two-Phase Treatment Work?

At the beginning of the first phase, orthodontic records are created, a diagnosis is established, and a treatment plan is outlined. Certain types of orthodontic appliances are used in the first phase to correct and realign the teeth and jaw. The second phase begins when all permanent teeth have erupted and usually requires braces on all the teeth for an average of 24 months.

Phase One – A Foundation for a Lifetime of Beautiful Smiles

The goal of Phase One treatment is to help the jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all of the permanent teeth and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Here are some of the steps that might be taken in Phase One:

1. Dental Examination to Determine Your Child’s Unique Treatment

An orthodontic evaluation will be necessary to see if early treatment is necessary. The doctor will also determine the type of appliances to be used, the duration of treatment time, and the frequency of visits. We will also take models of the teeth, X-rays, and photographs.

2. Initial Treatment

Initial Phase One treatment may include appliances such as retainers, headgear, space maintainers, and expansion appliances. Braces may be used in this phase, but not typically.

Pediatric Dentisty Sudbury MA
Early Age Dental Care Sudbury MA

3. Progress Monitoring

At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will be accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.

Phase Two – Training Teeth for Proper Positioning

After the rest period, which might be a few years, children of approximately 12 years and up are ready for Phase Two. The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. Phase Two usually involves full upper and lower braces or clear aligners. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure your child retains a beautiful smile.

What Conditions Does Early Orthodontic Treatment Help?

Early orthodontic treatment is important for kids, not just for their current and future health, but also for their mental health. When kids are growing, having issues with their smile or speech can reduce confidence and lead to negative psychological impacts.

Conditions that can be corrected and improved with early treatment include:

  • Habits like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and lip biting
  • Bite issues, including underbites, crossbites (both anterior and posterior), anterior open bites, and deep impinging bites
  • Excessive overjet—upper incisors protruding excessively (buck teeth), which can be prone to trauma
  • Impacted canines (facilitating eruption at a young age can avoid future surgery)
  • Moderate to severe crowding of teeth
  • Speech issues caused by malpositioned teeth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Excessive spacing of teeth
  • Unfavorable sequence of eruption of teeth
Sudbury MA

Meet Dr. Spyrou

Dr. Leo Spyrou, brings over 30 years experience as both a dentist and an orthodontist to his patients in Reading and the whole “North of Boston” area. In addition to a Doctorate of Dental Medicine from Tufts University, Dr. Spyrou received specialty training in Pediatric Dentistry and Temporomandibular Joint Disorders before earning his Post-graduate Degree in Orthodontics.

As well as practicing orthodontics, Dr. Spyrou enjoys teaching postgraduate orthodontics in the orthodontic department at Tufts, and is committed to staying current with the latest advances in orthodontia for children and adults. He is a member of numerous associations, including the American Dental Association, the American Association of Orthodontists, the Northeastern Society of Orthodontists, and the Tufts Association of Orthodontists.

Dr. Leo Spyrou

Meet Dr. Hayes

Dr. Hayes was born in New York and spent her childhood and early adult years in Florida where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical sciences from the University of South Florida, while working full time as an orthodontic assistant. She then made the move north to endure the New England winters where she received her D.M.D degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. Upon graduation, she began working as a General Dentist, where she quickly realized she wanted to specialize in orthodontics. She returned to Tufts and received her Certificate in Orthodontics.

Dr. Hayes

What Is the Process to Start Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children?

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 practice and schedule an appointment. 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.

Questions about early orthodontic treatment for children?

Call our office today for a complimentary orthodontic evaluation at (978) 443-5431. Our Sudbury orthodontic office has flexible appointment times to accommodate your schedule.

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