Pediatric Orthodontics for Children

What distinguishes pediatric orthodontics from standard orthodontic treatments, and why might my child require it? How will this early intervention benefit my child long-term?

These are some inquiries that many have regarding pediatric orthodontics. The American Association of Orthodontists advises that children undergo an orthodontic evaluation by the age of seven. During this visit, the orthodontist can determine if your child is a candidate for kids orthodontic treatment.

Pediatric orthodontics (also known as Phase One) generally starts between ages eight and nine (with Phase Two kicking in around age 11 or later). The objective of this early phase is to correct jaw growth and specific bite issues, such as an underbite. This proactive approach also aims to ensure there is adequate space for the permanent teeth to emerge correctly, reducing the likelihood of needing tooth extractions later on.

Signs Your Child May Need Early Orthodontic Treatment:

  • Early or delayed loss of baby teeth (a typical timeline would start around age five, with all permanent teeth in place by around age 13)
  • Difficulties in chewing and/or biting
  • Regular mouth breathing
  • Persistent thumb-sucking beyond age five
  • Speech challenges
  • Protruding teeth (where the top and bottom teeth are spaced far apart from each other)
  • Teeth that fail to align properly or at all when closed
  • Jaw misalignment when your child opens or closes their mouth (crossbites)
  • Crowded front teeth noticed by age seven or eight

Underlying Causes of Orthodontic Issues and the Benefits of Early Treatment

Orthodontic complications such as dental crowding, excessive gaps between teeth, irregular jaw growth, protruding teeth, and misaligned bites might stem from genetic factors or result from accidents, premature or prolonged loss of baby teeth, or prolonged thumb-sucking.

Typically, children shed all their baby teeth by age 13, and by their late teens, the jaw bones solidify and cease growth. Orthodontic treatments in adults can require more time and might necessitate tooth removal or surgery. Early orthodontic intervention can preempt the necessity for such treatments in adulthood, significantly reducing the likelihood of extractions or surgical procedures later.

If your child is between seven to eight years old and shows potential signs of needing orthodontic attention, or if your family dentist has recommended a visit to an orthodontist, please contact our office to arrange an appointment. Our team will provide a comprehensive initial examination for your child and outline the next steps for maintaining your child’s healthy smile.