Early Treatment - Five people with their arms around each other smiling for the camera

Early Treatment

At what age should my child see an Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. Interceptive orthodontic treatment around this time can help direct proper tooth positioning and/or jaw growth, eliminating or simplifying the need for later treatment. An early orthodontic evaluation will give your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile.

Is early orthodontic treatment necessary? 

Many parents understand the importance of orthodontic treatment (phase II) for children to ensure they do not have any cosmetic or oral health concerns due to the alignment of their smile, but early orthodontic treatment (phase I) can also be important. The following is an overview of early orthodontic treatment and when it might be necessary. 

Early orthodontic treatment, also called phase I of orthodontic treatment, is designed to help young children who still have some or all of their primary teeth, which may prevent improper growth and alignment of permanent teeth. There are different types of options available in early orthodontic treatment, depending on the specific issue the child has. The three most common types of treatment include wearing a palatal expander, partial braces, and a retainer. The primary goal is often to address skeletal issues with the jaw and alignment before or soon after permanent teeth emerge. 

When to consider early orthodontic treatment.

Early orthodontic treatment is a good idea if the general dentist or orthodontist notices an issue with the child’s jaw or tooth alignment after permanent teeth come through. Several concerns that they might check for include:

  • Malocclusion
  • Bite complications
  • Narrow jaw
  • Protruding teeth

Early orthodontic treatment is in a way a head start for phase II orthodontics. It reduces the need for treatments such as metal braces or clear aligners at a later age. For children who may not need early orthodontic treatment, it is important to note that not every child requires early orthodontic treatment. Children who do not have any noticeable concerns with the alignment of their jaw or teeth should likely wait until phase II orthodontics for treatment. The best way to determine if a child can benefit from early orthodontic treatment is to consider visiting with an orthodontist for a consultation, during which they can order dental X-rays and conduct an oral examination to see how the permanent teeth and the jaw are developing.