What is early orthodontic treatment? While many people associate orthodontics with adolescents, teens, and even adults, the truth is that children can benefit, too. Some orthodontic issues begin developing early in life and may worsen later on. Early orthodontic treatment allows for the detection and treatment of these issues in their beginning stages, helping to ensure the proper growth and development of a child’s teeth and jaw. 

What Is the Best Age to Start Orthodontic Treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have an orthodontic evaluation no later than seven years old. However, parents shouldn’t hesitate to consult with an orthodontist sooner if they suspect a problem. 

5 Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment

Early intervention of current or developing orthodontic issues in young children comes with several significant benefits:

1. Correct Habits Like Thumb Sucking and Tongue Thrusting

According to the American Dental Association, most children stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of two and four. However, some have trouble breaking the habit on their own. Continuing to suck their thumbs can increase the risk of oral development and tooth alignment issues. It may also change the roof of a child’s mouth. 

Tongue thrusting describes the habit of pressing the tongue against the back of the teeth. It can occur for several reasons, including poor swallowing habits, a tongue tie, or allergies, and may result in poorly aligned teeth or an open bite. 

Different devices help break oral habits to stop the progression of or prevent orthodontic issues. A fixed palatal crib attaches to the molars and sits on the roof of a child’s mouth to stop thumb sucking, while a tongue crib retrains the tongue to curb thrusting. 

2. May Improve Speech

Misaligned jaws or teeth can impact your child’s speech. These issues can make it difficult to pronounce certain letters or cause a lisp. While some speech concerns may require speech therapy, correcting alignment issues may also play a role in ensuring proper speech development. 

3. Lower the Risks of Dental Issues

Dental issues like cavities, gum disease, and bruxism (tooth grinding) can all lead to significant oral health problems, including tooth infections, tooth damage, uneven wear patterns, and premature tooth loss. Correcting tooth and jaw alignment concerns makes it easier for your child to brush their teeth thoroughly. It may also help put a stop to grinding.

4. Boost Your Child’s Confidence

While it may not bother them at a young age, children may become self-conscious of crooked teeth or bite problems as they get older. They may not smile as much or try to avoid it altogether. They may worry about what their peers think of them. Addressing concerns early on can help children develop healthy, confident smiles they’re proud to show off. 

5. Save Time and Money

The longer orthodontic issues go untreated, the worse they may become. They may result in the need for more intensive treatments that are both expensive and require numerous office visits. With early orthodontic treatment, you can prevent — or at least reduce the severity of — future issues, avoiding the financial and time costs associated with later orthodontic care. 

Treating Dental Problems Early With Hansen Orthodontics

Early orthodontic treatment can stop the progression of or even prevent future orthodontic issues in children, allowing for proper oral development and a healthy, beautiful smile. If your child is approaching seven or you suspect a problem with your child’s dental development, contact Hansen Orthodontics to schedule their orthodontic evaluation today.