Early Orthodontic Treatment for Kids
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends every child visit an orthodontist at the first sign of an orthodontic problem, but no later than age 7. This might seem pretty young, but, at this point, your child has enough permanent teeth for our Westminster orthodontists to determine if there is a current orthodontic issue or one that is developing. Dr. Cronin and Dr. Czarnik always treat kids conservatively, so, many times, your child won’t need treatment. We’ll simply monitor them until the time is right. However, if the orthodontist does identify certain emerging issues, intercepting them with Phase 1 orthodontic treatment can prevent more serious problems from occurring.
What is Early Orthodontic Treatment?
Early orthodontic treatment, also known as Phase 1 treatment or interceptive orthodontic treatment, typically begins when a child is around age 8 or 9 (Phase 2 generally starts at age 11 or older following a rest period). During Phase 1 treatment, Dr. Cronin and Dr. Czarnik use orthodontic appliances to guide the development of a child’s jaw and face.
The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as underbite. Early treatment also makes room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future.
Signs Your Child May Need Phase 1 Orthodontic Treatment:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age 5, and will have all permanent teeth around age 12 or 13)
- Difficulty chewing and/or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Sucking the thumb after age 5
- Speech impediments
- Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
- Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner or even at all
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes their mouth
- Crowded front teeth around age 7 or 8
What Causes Orthodontic Problems in Kids?
Orthodontic problems, such as crowded teeth, gaps between the teeth, issues with jaw growth, bad bites and protruding teeth can be caused by:
- The early or late loss of baby teeth
- Oral habits, including tongue thrust and prolonged thumb sucking
Airway-Focused Orthodontics for Kids
A small or narrow jaw can lead to airway obstruction and breathing problems in children, including obstructive sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome. The reduced oxygen intake, poor quality sleep and bite problems that result are tied to a host of issues, such as:
- Poor school performance
- Behavioral problems
- TMJ dysfunction
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
- And more
As experts in airway orthodontics, Dr. Cronin and Dr. Czarnik can intervene early and use a Schwartz appliance or other palatal expander while a child is still growing. This will widen the upper jaw (maxilla) and nasal floor, create room for the permanent teeth and open the airway. Maxillary expansion can significantly improve your child’s health, quality of life and appearance in the future.
How Can Early Orthodontic Treatment Benefit My Child?
Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, their jaw bones harden and stop growing. Once this happens, orthodontic treatment for certain issues can take much longer and may involve tooth extractions or, in severe cases, corrective jaw surgery.
During childhood, Dr. Cronin and Dr. Czarnik can guide jaw growth and development with early orthodontic treatment. In some cases, this can stop more serious bite issues from occurring altogether. It also helps prevent the need for extensive treatment as a teenager or adult, leaving little to no chance of extractions or surgery in the future.
Kid-Friendly Orthodontic Care for Growing Smiles
Looking for a fun, friendly orthodontist for kids in Westminster, CO? Look no further. At our bright, welcoming offices, we offer the highest quality orthodontic care for children in a relaxed, upbeat atmosphere. Our team is all about making the experience stress-free for little ones and parents alike.
Whether your child is showing signs of an orthodontic problem, you’ve been told by your dentist to see an orthodontist or they’re age 7 or older and haven’t been evaluated yet, book a complimentary exam at Cronin & Czarnik Orthodontics today!
Children should have their first orthodontic evaluation by age 7.
Many of our young patients finish Phase 1 orthodontic treatment within 12 months.
6 to 7
Kids typically get their first permanent molars, which establish the back of the bite, between ages 6 and 7.
Confident Smiles Start With Expert Care
Don’t let your smile insecurities hold you back! As a top orthodontist in Westminster, CO, we have the knowledge and expertise to achieve fantastic results for patients of all ages. Whether you have slightly crooked teeth, severe orthodontic concerns or anything in between, our doctors will tailor treatment to your unique needs. To get started, schedule a complimentary consultation today!