Don’t Put It Off: Why Early Treatment Matters

Whether you’re a parent or not, you know that an inherent part of having children is worrying about them. A common worry for parents and caregivers is their child’s smile—how to keep their teeth strong and healthy, how often they should be visiting the dentist, and whether orthodontic care might become necessary at any point. We’re here to help with that last point! Don’t put it off, keep reading to find out why early treatment matters.

Although orthodontics is often associated with teens, treatment can benefit patients of all ages, including younger children. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child have an orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. But why is early treatment so important? In this article we will explain why early treatment is important and how it can help your child’s smile thrive!

Here at Cowan Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer initial consultation services at no charge. For young children, an initial consultation will include an assessment of overall oral health and development. Dr. Cowan will be checking for anything that might suggest that treatment would be necessary, whether now or some time in the future. Identifying orthodontic issues early on gives him the chance to intervene before problems develop into something that requires more intensive treatment. This gives your child the best chance at a lifetime of healthy smiles! 

An orthodontic evaluation for children between the ages of 6-9 can help detect problems early on and may prompt what we call interceptive orthodontics to correct them. Let’s take a closer look at what that means and how it can help your child achieve and maintain a beautifully aligned smile! Keep reading below for more information.

Don’t Put It Off: Why Early Treatment Matters

What is interceptive orthodontics?

Interceptive orthodontics, sometimes referred to as Phase I treatment, allows an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Cowan to detect any irregularities in jaw growth or tooth development. If detected at a younger age, problems can be addressed and lessen or prevent future issues.   This way, your child will grow up with a straighter and healthier smile! 

When it is recommended that my child undergo interceptive orthodontics?

There are many compelling reasons to consider interceptive orthodontics. Dr. Cowan will thoroughly inspect your child’s teeth and jaws during their initial orthodontic exam. Treatment may be recommended if it appears that:

  • the child will be prone to a particular problem that we want to keep from developing
  • the child already has a developing problem that we keep from becoming worse
  • the child’s jawbones may need a bit of guidance as they grow 

Many orthodontic issues are genetic, but some can be acquired. Inherited problems typically consist of crowded teeth or teeth with too much space between them, extra or missing teeth, and other irregularities of the jaws, teeth, and face. Acquired malocclusions can be caused by accidental trauma, extended thumb sucking or pacifier use, dental disease, premature tooth loss, or a wide variety of other causes. Whether a child’s issues are inherited or acquired, they can affect the alignment of the teeth and development and appearance of the face. Interceptive orthodontics can treat all of the above by catching and reversing complications before they get too serious.

What will my child’s interceptive orthodontics look like? 

Early orthodontic exams don’t necessarily lead to treatment. Immediate treatment is typically only recommended for a small fraction of the young patients. Even when treatment is suggested, that doesn’t always mean putting braces on your child right away! Many Phase I treatments don’t involve brackets, wires, and bands at all! Examples of this may include: 

  • placing space maintainers to help save a spot for permanent teeth if a primary tooth is lost early due to injury or decay
  • using expanders to help widen the upper jaw and treat extremely crowded teeth
  • removing one or more primary teeth to help guide the proper eruption of permanent teeth

Here at Cowan Orthodontics, we believe that following the normal growth and development patterns of childhood gives us the best chance to tackle orthodontic issues at the most optimal time in our patients’ lives. Many problems can be treated relatively easily in a child whose mouth is still developing but would require more invasive treatment as they get older. Interceptive orthodontics can often achieve lasting results for many of these issues and may lessen the impact of others. Some patients who receive Phase I treatment will later require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process.

Get your child’s smile off to a great start with Cowan Orthodontics

When you schedule your child for an early orthodontic evaluation with our office, you are giving them the best chance for a healthy smile that looks good and feels great! Even if we don’t detect any urgent issues, there are several benefits to visiting an orthodontist regularly throughout childhood. These check-ups allow us to:

  • monitor the progress of emerging teeth
  • monitor the progress of facial and jaw development
  • reduce the risk of jaw surgery in the future
  • guide incoming teeth into the ideal position
  • detect hidden dental problems
  • reduce the risk of impacted teeth
  • reduce the risk of permanent tooth extractions

We love early orthodontic evaluations because they allow us to proactively approach a child’s orthodontic care, rather than reactively! This better allows us to give young patients the care and treatment they need when it will be most effective and beneficial to them. 

Your child’s smile is as unique as they are and we know that what works well for one patient may not be a good fit for another. That’s why Dr. Cowan uses a customized treatment plan for every patient, built around their specific needs and goals. Do you have a young child who may benefit from interceptive orthodontics? Contact our team today to schedule a FREE orthodontic evaluation with Dr. Cowan. Your child’s smile deserves nothing but the best!