Early Treatment



 Orthodontic Problems.

7 Years Old Is The Perfect Age For Your First Ortho Visit!

Evaluating a child's orthodontic needs at 7 years old allows us an opportunity to be preventative in care.  Typically at this age, children's dental development is mature enough for us to gauge anticipated teeth alignment and available space in the mouth for permanent teeth.  If we foresee any problems during that initial exam, treatment can begin right away (often referred to as Phase 1).  This early treatment will help minimize the length and complexity of later treatment, usually taking place after all permanent teeth have appeared.   If there is no foreseen problems during that initial evaluation, we will simply observe your child's oral development overtime.  

Warning Signs

As a parent, there are several conditions you can watch for concerning your child's orthodontic needs (see chart above).   Some of the most common are listed below:


Crossbite is a condition where the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. To treat this problem, a device called a palatal expander can be used, which gradually and painlessly widens the upper jaw; it's especially effective when the jaw itself hasn't fully developed. If we wait too long, a more complicated treatment — or even oral surgery — might be required to correct the problem. 


Another condition that may benefit from early treatment is severe crowding. This occurs when the jaws are too small to accommodate all of the permanent teeth. Either palatal expansion or tooth extraction may be recommended at this point, to help the adult teeth erupt (emerge from below the gums) properly. Even if braces are required later, the treatment time will likely be shorter and less complicated.


Habits To Watch For

 Dangers of Thumb Sucking.

Certain childhood habits can influence the development and function of the teeth, jaws and mouth.  Some of these to watch for are:

Thumb Sucking.  The sucking reflex is natural in early childhood; it usually disappears between ages 2 and 4. But if it persists much later, the pressure of the digit on the front teeth and the upper jaw can actually cause the teeth to move apart and the jaws to change shape. This can lead to the orthodontic problem called “open bite,” and may impair speech. 

Mouth Breathing.  Mouth breathing is an abnormal breathing pattern in which the mouth always remains open, passing air directly to the lungs.  It is related to alterations in the muscular function of the tongue and face. It may cause the upper and lower jaw to grow abnormally, which can lead to serious orthodontic problems. Although mouth breathing may start from a physical difficulty, it can become a habitual action that's hard to break.

Tongue Thrust. Tongue thrust is  when the tongue pushes forward against the teeth.  This type of action may eventually lead to an open bite.  An easy way for parents to identify a tongue thrust in their child is to ask him or her to clench the teeth down and swallow while teeth are clenched.  If there is a tongue thrust, the tongue will push through the teeth while swallowing.



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