Early Treatment

At what age should a child have an orthodontic examination?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that most children should have an orthodontic screening by age seven. This allows Dr. McBeth to determine if orthodontic treatment will be required and the best time for the patient to begin treatment.  Many of the dentists in our community have been trained to identify orthodontic problems early, and may refer you to our office earlier than age seven.

Why are children being evaluated at such an early age?
If early, Phase I, treatment is indicated, Dr. McBeth can guide the growth of the jaw and incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb sucking, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, Phase I treatment can simplify Phase II  treatment.

Does early treatment benefit all children?
Early treatment does not necessarily benefit all children. Certain types of orthodontic problems can be more easily and efficiently corrected in the teen years when all the permanent teeth have erupted. Some skeletal orthodontic problems should not be addressed until growth is more advanced or completed. Dr. McBeth develops a plan for treatment based on each individual child’s needs. If she decides the patient is not ready for treatment, they are placed in observation.

What does it mean when patients are placed in observation?
Observation is for patients who are not ready for treatment. This program enables Dr. McBeth to monitor the eruptive pattern of the permanent teeth. Sometimes, poor erupted patterns of permanent teeth may be eliminated with early removal of baby teeth and reduce the treatment time required for braces. We will notify your dentist of any recommendations made during these visits. We will see the patient every 6 months to observe growth and development. There is no fee for observation appointments  and it helps the orthodontist determine the optimum time to begin treatment and achieve the best possible result for your child.

In addition to a beautiful new smile, what are some other benefits of orthodontic treatment?
Braces can improve function of the bite and teeth, improve ability to clean the teeth, prevent enamel wear on the teeth, and increase the longevity of natural teeth over a lifetime.

If a child has treatment early, will this prevent the need for braces as an adolescent?
Early treatment can begin the correction of significant problems, prevent more severe problems from developing, and simplify future treatment. Because all of the permanent teeth have not yet erupted when early treatment is performed, their final alignment may not have been corrected. Typically, a shortened comprehensive phase of treatment (Phase II – full braces) in the teen years, after all the permanent teeth have erupted, completes the correction. However, in some circumstances, further orthodontic treatment may not be indicated.

Do we still need to see our dentist during orthodontic treatment?
Yes. You should continue to see your dentist, at least every six months, for cleanings and dental checkups.