The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends children have an initial consultation by an orthodontic specialist beginning at age 7 to address any potential jaw or tooth development issues. An evaluation by an orthodontist is different from exams performed by a pediatric or general dentist. Some orthodontic problems are easier to address and correct when treated early rather than waiting for all the permanent teeth to erupt or until facial growth is nearly complete. Interceptive treatment is designed to occur at the most appropriate time of a patient’s growth and development.
Beginning at age 7, a child often has enough permanent teeth that an orthodontist can detect potential issues with jaw development and erupting teeth. During the initial evaluation, it will be determined if any orthodontic treatment is to be expected, if treatment will be necessary in the future but is not needed at the current time, or if an issue would benefit from early, interceptive treatment. Most children will not need any early orthodontics and will continue to be monitored by the orthodontist as they grow, ensuring any necessary treatment begins at the appropriate stage of development.
According to the AAO, the goal of early treatment is to “intercept” the developing problem, guide the growth of facial and jaw bones, provide adequate space for emerging permanent teeth, direct teeth into a more favorable position to protect from trauma, and correct harmful oral habits such as thumb sucking. Some problems that may be most beneficial to address while baby teeth are still present are: underbites (when the lower teeth are in front of the upper teeth), crossbites (when the jaw shifts to one side), excessive crowding or spacing, missing or extra teeth, teeth that do not touch when biting down, or to correct thumb or finger sucking that may adversely affect teeth and jaw growth. In some cases, early treatment may address sleep issues that manifest themselves in hyperactive behavior and/or poor school performance.
Early orthodontic treatment may require a custom, fixed or removable appliance that is designed to move the teeth, guide the development of the jaw, or to curb a harmful habit. In other cases, no appliance may be necessary, but the orthodontist may recommend the removal of baby teeth to help with the eruption of future permanent teeth. It is not uncommon that additional orthodontic treatment may be necessary once all the permanent teeth have come in. This second, and final phase of treatment, will align the teeth to ensure a confident smile.
Dr. Kelly Morgan is a Harvard-trained orthodontic specialist who can evaluate your child at an early age and ensure your child has the best opportunity for a healthy, confident smile. Morgan Orthodontics is a woman-owned, local business providing customized treatment plans to families in Leesburg, Ashburn, Sterling, and the greater Loudoun County and Winchester areas. We accommodate the busiest of schedules and offer a complimentary middle school limo service! Making our patients smile by offering excellent customer service, the latest technology and the highest quality of care is just part of the Morgan Difference.
Consultations are always complimentary. Please call 703-723-5900 to schedule.