Treatment for Children

Children are ideal candidates for orthodontic treatment. Because the jawbone is soft and still growing, a young patient’s smile is particularly receptive to re-alignment. In addition to enhanced aesthetics, a straighter smile also offers significant health benefits including improved speech and better access for oral hygiene.

When Should You See an Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a visit to the orthodontist around age 7. By this age we can begin to identify serious misalignment issues, for example an upper or lower jaw that is growing too much or not enough. Early treatment allows us to take advantage of a critical period of jaw growth to maximize the potential for successful tooth alignment in the future. In some cases, correcting tooth and jaw positioning early on encourages more satisfactory dental and facial development during the pre-teen and teen years.  

Who Needs Early Treatment?

Not everyone needs early orthodontic treatment. Dr. Cavanagh usually does not recommend treatment until most of the permanent teeth are erupted (between the ages of 10 and 12), but in some cases early treatment can provide a substantial benefit. Even if children are not ready to begin treatment, Dr. Cavanagh will provide a complimentary annual evaluation to check their growth and dental development. She will provide advice and guidance so that any needed treatment begins at the ideal time.

Signs indicating that early treatment may be necessary:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty in chewing or biting
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
  • Jaws that are too far forward or back
  • Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Upper and lower teeth that don’t meet, or meet in an abnormal way
  • An unbalanced facial appearance
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth 

Overall, the benefits of early treatment are:

  • Guide jaw growth
  • Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
  • Correct harmful oral habits
  • Improve appearance and self-esteem
  • Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
  • Improve the way the lips meet

Call our office to find out if your child may benefit from early orthodontics!