Is my Child too Young to Treat?
The Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO) recommends children first see a registered specialist Orthodontist for an assessment between 8 and 10 years of age. In some cases, there are benefits to seeing child patients from as young as just three years. Surprisingly, many orthodontic issues can be identified in a child’s preschool years.
How susceptible you are to cavities, gum disease or a bad bite is often predetermined even before you are born by your genes. However, your environment can also obviously play a significant role in healthy teeth development. For children, normalising teeth position as early as possible can be important in stabilising the jaw as it develops. Your Orthodontist is the best person to consult to determine this.
Many people think a child needs to get all their adult teeth before seeking an assessment, but where a problem exists, it is possible it could benefit from being treated earlier. In fact, corrective procedures can work faster and more effectively while a child’s jaw bones are still pliable.
Indicators about whether your child may benefit from early orthodontic treatment, include:
- Early loss of baby teeth (up to age 10 years)
- Child’s teeth do not meet properly when biting
- Crowding of teeth
- Protruding front teeth
- Biting or chewing difficulties
- Speech impediment
- Child’s jaw shifts when opening/closing the mouth – this is important
- Child sucks thumb or finger beyond age 3
Even if none of the above characteristics are apparent in your child, there are key milestones that present good opportunities to evaluate their teeth and jaw development, such as the arrival of incisors and assessing development of adult canines at about 9 years of age which corresponds with the ASO guidelines. By this stage, problems such as crowding, missing teeth, misplaced teeth and bite issues can be identified. Overbites, underbites and crossbites can result in malformed jaw development which can have long-lasting effects.
Early treatment of younger children is intended to intercept and prevent problems with the jaw structure as it develops, to ensure proper proportions are achieved to accommodate the permanent teeth, amongst other things. Through early correction, an orthodontist may be able to correct overcrowding and prevent the future removal of teeth or surgical procedures to align the jaw.
DID YOU KNOW?
- A baby’s jaw is almost 50% of its adult size at birth, and by 6 years of age are almost 80% of their adult size
- Children’s occlusions (bites) are already apparent from as young as 18 months old
Appropriate early treatment is an effective interceptive measure that can lay the foundation for a healthy and well-functioning mouth in adulthood. If you think your child would benefit from early orthodontic treatment, Whyte Orthodontics can recommend the most appropriate treatment options and the best time to begin treatment.