Early Treatment and Pediatric Orthodontics
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive an initial orthodontic evaluation at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than the age of seven. Treatment is not typically necessary at this early age, but an initial evaluation when the mouth is still in the early stages of adult formation can be useful for determining what treatment will be needed and when the ideal time to apply braces will be.
At Birmingham Orthodontics, we oppose to the practice of putting braces on a child twice when waiting for teeth to fully develop could allow us to treat a patient once. Even in cases in which the parent wants their child to have braces twice, if our orthodontists cannot justify a significant benefit to the child, they will refuse to put braces on a child two times and will refer the parent to another orthodontist. This is an ethical decision on our part to do what’s best both for the child’s orthodontic health and their finances.
Reasons for Pre-Teen and Child’s Braces
That said, there are certain cases in which it is a wise choice to place braces on a child or pre-teen. Some children’s mouths develop more quickly than others, and some develop significant bite or alignment problems that require the early placement of orthodontics. A few reasons that children without all of their permanent teeth might benefit from orthodontic care include:
- Creating room for erupting or crowded teeth
- Developing facial symmetry by transforming jaw growth
- Lessening the risk of trauma to protruding frontal teeth
- Preserving room for unerupted teeth
- Decreasing the likelihood for needing to pull teeth
If your child’s jaw is developing in an abnormal way or his or her teeth are at risk of growing in an extremely misaligned manner — a manner that could potentially affect overall oral health — your orthodontist might suggest child braces, tooth removal, or simply regular screenings to monitor your child’s oral development.
While situations in which orthodontic treatment is needed at the age of seven or eight are less common, they can happen, so it’s always a good idea to bring your child in for an evaluation, even before you think they’re ready for braces. Our orthodontists can give you a sense of how your child’s teeth will develop and when they will most likely need braces, or if they’ll need braces at all.
Anytime that you come in for a consultation — whether for a child, a teenager, or for adult orthodontics — our orthodontists will never pressure you into getting braces that you don’t need or can’t reasonably afford. We try to make orthodontics in Birmingham as reasonable and accessible as possible, but we have no interest in having our patients purchase services that they don’t need. Our orthodontists believe in treating each of our patients with respect, integrity, and honesty — the same way that we would hope to be treated ourselves.