The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children be seen for an orthodontic examination by the age of 7.
Around this age, the four permanent front teeth and the first permanent molar teeth have erupted into the mouth, allowing the orthodontist to evaluate crowding of the front teeth and bite relationships of the back teeth. Also, this is the perfect age to begin monitoring the eruption paths of the developing permanent teeth. Certain types of orthodontic issues, such as crossbites and underbites, are easier to correct at this age.
Not all children need early orthodontic treatment. If necessary, the orthodontist will recommend a two-phase treatment approach as the best orthodontic plan. The first phase typically lasts about a year, followed by an observation-only period until the child has most or all of his or her permanent teeth in the mouth. At that time, the second phase of treatment would begin.
Goals of Phase I treatment:
- To make space for the permanent teeth
- To get the jaws fitting together normally
Phase I treatment greatly reduces:
- The need to extract permanent teeth to correct crowding
- The need for jaw surgery to correct misaligned jaws
- The time necessary to wear full braces