Early diagnosis and treatment is vital for achieving optimal results with orthodontics. If a condition is discovered when a child’s teeth are still developing, it can often be corrected with minimal fuss and, in some cases, may not require a brace.
When should my child see an orthodonist?
The Australian Association of Orthodontists recommends an initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems and no later than seven years old. Although orthodontic treatment may not be necessary at this early stage, it is important to have a thorough examination so problems can be anticipated and corrected before it’s too late.
When detected early, problems with bite and crooked teeth can be put right with a small amount of effort. This is because children’s teeth are still developing. Taking action sooner will prevent serious problems occurring at a later stage. This treatment could also have a cosmetic advantage and improve the jaw line in certain cases. If orthodontic intervention isn’t necessary at this early stage, we can carefully monitor the growth and development of your child's teeth and begin treatment when it is ideal.
Why is seven considered the optimal age for screening?
By the age of seven the first adult molars break through, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist will be able to evaluate the front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Catching these problems early can reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment later.
Some of the most direct results of early treatment are:
Orthodontic treatment isn’t just for improving the aesthetics of your smile; it will also help correct a bad bite. Known as malocclusion, a bad bite occurs as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment which can affect the way you smile, chew and clean your teeth.
According to studies both here in Australia and overseas, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems. Crowded teeth are more difficult to brush and floss properly, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease. More importantly, there is a growing body of evidence that gum infections can contribute to systemic disease like cardiovascular problems.
Furthermore, protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping; cross bites can result in unfavourable growth and uneven tooth wear; and open bites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.
Growth modification refers to the use of appliances (e.g. plates) to either encourage or discourage the growth of the jaws in order to improve their relationship and thus improve the bite as well as the child’s facial appearance. Timing is important in growth modification, as the effects are larger when the child is actively growing. Mild to moderate jaw discrepancies can prevent the ideal placement of teeth, resulting in a poor bite and complications later in life.
Book your child in for a free appointment at the Straight Smile Centre™ today to find out if they could benefit from early orthodontic treatment.