Early Intervention Orthodontics
Sometimes orthodontic treatment can be started a lot earlier than the teenage years. Children as young as six might benefit from a course of early intervention orthodontics.
Early treatment aims to
- reduce crowding in the developing dentition
- prevent the removal of adult teeth
- shorten orthodontic treatment time during the teenage years
- minimise the potential trauma to protruding front teeth
- prevent or address problems with speech and swallowing
- improve the psychosocial health of the child, and
- improve the general health of the child by opening their airways and improving their breathing patterns
A course of early treatment options may include one or a combination of orthodontic therapies provided over several months or years. This type of treatment is usually non-invasive and completely reversible.
If early treatment is required, we tailor its delivery to each child and family. We want your child’s dental experiences to be positive and fun right from the start, so we will always provide treatment with the greatest respect and care.
How Early Are We Talking?
From your child’s very first appointment, which should occur around their first birthday, we are already looking for signs of developing malocclusion. We know that, if your little one’s teeth and jaws are developing correctly, they are more likely to enjoy good dental and general health for life.
As they grow, we’ll continue to check that your child’s baby tooth eruption and loss is on track. We’ll also check that their jaws are growing well and in harmony with one another.
We’ll ask you about
- oral habits (such as thumb-sucking or the use of pacifiers)
- snoring habits
- breathing patterns
- their ability to concentrate at school
- their general health
- whether concerns about their speech, eating or breathing are on your or your GP’s radar
By the age of six or seven, when your child’s first adult molars should be present in the mouth, we’ll have a clear idea about:
- the relationship of their upper and lower jaws
- how well their bite is developing
- their growth patterns.
Children from around the age of six can receive early intervention orthodontics.
When Is Early Intervention Orthodontics Required?
There are many reasons why a young child might require orthodontic intervention.
- To prevent dental crowding
- To encourage young jaws to grow into an ideal alignment
- It may be possible to expand a narrow palate, allowing better airflow throughout the airways and creating more space for teeth to occupy
- To eliminate habits that can affect the developing bite, such as thumb-sucking or tongue thrusting
Are We Talking Braces?
No, not for young children. Early intervention orthodontic treatments don’t involve braces.
Sometimes the only intervention a young child will need is some oral (mouth and jaw) exercises and to develop better habits around chewing and swallowing.
Another common form of early intervention involves the fitting of an orthodontic appliance for growth guidance.
Does Early Intervention Always Prevent The Need For Future Orthodontic Treatment?
Sometimes early intervention can treat the malocclusion, in which case no further treatment is necessary.
Often, early intervention will reduce the severity of a poor bite. There might still be a need to do some follow up orthodontic work during the teenage years. Usually, as a result of the early intervention, the treatment time will be much reduced.
Some malocclusions are too severe for early intervention orthodontics to be successful. In these cases, it’s better to wait until the child is older and able to tolerate braces. If a referral to a specialist orthodontist is necessary, we will explain the reasons why and make a recommendation.
Do I Need To Make A Special Appointment For My Child’s Orthodontic Assessment?
If you would like to join our practice to have your child’s developing bite assessed, ask for a new patient check-up. Please mention your concerns about your child’s bite as you make the appointment. Our reception team will take note of these and pass them on to the attending dentist.
During the appointment, your dentist will do a comprehensive check-up which will include a review of your child’s developing bite.
If you are a current patient, we check your child’s developing bite carefully at every appointment.