Usually, the ideal age for braces is considered to be between 10 and 14. However, some children get braces as early as age 7 as part of Phase 1 orthodontics. Not every child needs this treatment, but choosing to begin orthodontic treatment early can save them (and you, the parent) a lot of time and trouble later. Is Phase 1 orthodontics right for your child? In order to answer that question, you should carefully consider the following.
Why is Phase 1 Orthodontics Sometimes Needed?
Phase 1 orthodontics might involve wearing braces for a limited time, or it may call for the use of a single orthodontic appliance, such as a palate expander. The goal is to ensure that there’s enough room for the permanent teeth to erupt properly. Doing so reduces the risk of overcrowding and other issues that can lead to crooked teeth. Furthermore, Phase 1 orthodontics can be used to address specific development concerns such as underbite and crossbite before they become too severe. By having these treatments done now, you can reduce your child’s need for more extensive orthodontic care in the future.
Does Your Child Need Phase 1 Orthodontics?
Only an orthodontist can determine whether or not your child really needs Phase 1 orthodontics, but there are a few warning signs that parents can look for. Common indications for Phase 1 orthodontics include:
- Having notably crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth.
- Having teeth that don’t come together evenly all around the mouth.
- Engaging in nonnutritive habits (e.g. thumb-sucking) past a certain age, which can throw off dental development.
- Having problems speaking or breathing comfortably.
- Having a jaw that is not in proportion to the rest of the head.
- Baby teeth that are getting in the way of incoming adult teeth.
Some children might not have any of these symptoms but could still benefit from Phase 1 orthodontics. Even if there aren’t any serious problems with your little one’s jaw right now, that doesn’t mean that they can’t develop one later on. Phase 1 orthodontics gives the orthodontist a chance to determine if your child needs to be treated in the first place as well as when that treatment should start.
When’s the Best Time for an Orthodontic Consultation?
It’s recommended that you schedule an orthodontic appointment for your child around the age of 7 even if you aren’t sure whether they’ll need braces. Around this age, it’s possible for orthodontists to identify problems and start planning effective treatments. Putting off a consultation for too long could end up creating problems for your little one in the future.
It always pays to be proactive about taking care of your child’s smile. If they’re around the right age for Phase 1 orthodontics, don’t lose any more time; pick up the phone and get in touch with a local orthodontist today to set up an appointment and discuss potential first steps.
About the Author
Dr. William “Vaughn” Holland grew up less than two miles from the current location of his practice, Ortega Orthodontics, in Jacksonville. He initially pursued both prosthodontic and orthodontic specialties, but he eventually decided to focus strictly on orthodontics in order to be the best at what he does. To schedule a Phase 1 orthodontic consultation for your child, you can contact him through his website or call (904) 388-4600.