I have many patients who are brought in for their initial consultation by their parents, and I always get questions regarding when the right time to start treatment would be. I don’t have a universal answer for every case, but rather it all depends on each individual patient. Let’s talk about it. When we start Early Treatment, which we also call “Phase I,” we explain why orthodontic treatment
can either be postponed or should be started immediately.
According to AOA, the very first time that a child
needs to see an orthodontist is at age 7. Why age 7? Can we treat patients at that age and achieve a lot? The most important factor is that we can identify most future problems at that age, and even treat some of these early. What is it precisely that I, as a specialist, look for during the first orthodontic visit for my youngest patients?
Should we align teeth now or wait until the patients have all of their adult teeth? Crooked teeth are more susceptible to the wearing down of enamel edges, trauma, or gum recession. Anterior crossbites of even one individual tooth can lead to severe bone loss, gingival recession, and root resorption at that particular tooth, and these are generally problems that I want to correct. An anterior crossbite with a few teeth involved may cause skeletal problems, leading to mandibular overgrowth (Class 3 Skeletal).
Anterior Open Bite or Deep Impinging Bite
We can detect this problem by age 7, and correct it as needed. Usually, an open bite can be caused by two distinct factors: thumb/finger sucking or tongue thrust (or a large tongue). I like to eliminate these habits early so that normal development can occur. I recommend screening all young patients at the age of 7, so as to identify some of these conditions and possibly correct them. In many cases, we put the patient under observation, to treat them later when all adult teeth erupt. But in some cases, interceptive treatment can prevent future larger dental and skeletal malocclusions.