Don’t Put It Off: Why Early Treatment Matters

As parents, we worry about our children almost constantly. We worry about them keeping up with their schoolwork, we worry about their screen time, and of course, we worry about their smiles—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. Well, worry no longer, because Thacker Orthodontics is here to help! Although orthodontics is often associated with teens, treatment helps patients of all ages, including children. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child has an orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. But why is early treatment so important? In this article, we will explain the importance of early treatment and how it can help your child’s smile shine!

Here at Thacker 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. Jim and Dr. MaryEvan look for anything that might suggest that treatment would be necessary, whether immediately or down the line. Identifying orthodontic issues early on allows our orthodontists to intervene before they 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 interceptive orthodontics can help your child achieve and maintain a beautifully aligned smile! 

What is interceptive orthodontics?

Interceptive orthodontics, sometimes referred to as Phase I treatment, allows experienced orthodontists like Dr. Jim and Dr. MaryEvan to detect any irregularities in jaw growth or tooth development. We can then begin orthodontic treatment to guide the proper development and eruption of your child’s permanent teeth, as well as favorably enhance the growth of their jaw, especially if these issues are detected at a younger age when they are more easily addressable. This type of early intervention can make it easier to prevent or treat certain common issues by promoting an optimal relationship between the teeth and jaws before an unfavorable situation progresses too far. This way, your child will grow up with a straighter, more symmetrical, and healthier smile! 

In what cases is interceptive orthodontics appropriate for my child?

There are many compelling reasons to consider interceptive orthodontics. Dr. Jim and Dr. MaryEvan 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 now want to intercept
  • 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 myriad other causes. Whether a child’s issues are inherited or acquired, they can affect oral alignment and facial development. 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 we evaluate who may face immediate issues or serious complications down the line. 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 teeth spacers to help make space for permanent teeth to emerge 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 placement of permanent teeth

Here at Thacker 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 and their jawbones stop growing. Interceptive orthodontics can often achieve lasting results for many of these issues and may lessen the impact of others. Most 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 Thacker Orthodontics

When you schedule your child for an early orthodontic evaluation with our offices in the greater Cincinnati area, you’re giving them the best chance at 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 your child’s orthodontic care! 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 our orthodontists use a personalized 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. Jim or Dr. MaryEvan. Your child’s smile deserves nothing but the best!