At what age should a child first visit the orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that most children have an orthodontic screening by age 7. This allows Dr. Michael Ragan to determine whether orthodontic treatment will be required, and the best time for the patient to be treated. 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 7.
Why are children being evaluated at such an early age?
Early diagnosis and treatment can guide erupting teeth into more favorable positions, preserve space for permanent teeth, and reduce the likelihood of fracturing protruded front teeth.
If early treatment is indicated, Dr. Ragan 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. Ultimately, early treatment can simplify treatment later, when all of their new permanent teeth have arrived.
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 of the permanent teeth have erupted. Some skeletal orthodontic problems should not be addressed until growth is more advanced or completed. The doctor develops a plan for treatment based on each individual child’s needs.
What if my 7 year old does not need treatment?
If Dr. Ragan determines that orthodontic treatment isn’t necessary for your child, then we place them into a complimentary program called The orthodontic supervisory program. This program enables us to monitor your child with an appointment every 6-8 months to observe their progress as they grow and develop. Sometimes, their new permanent teeth can cause significant disruptions in their mouth. By monitoring their progress, we are able to catch problems early, and alleviate potential disruptive and expensive treatment later.
In addition to a beautiful, new smile, what are some other benefits of orthodontic treatment?
Braces can improve the function of your bite, improve your ability to clean your teeth, prevent unnecessary wear, 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 most often alleviates more significant and expensive problems as your child becomes a teenager. Correction at an early age allows Dr. Ragan to prevent more severe problems from developing, simplifying future treatment. Since early treatment takes place before all of the permanent teeth have grown in, final alignment will more than likely still need to be corrected. However, in some circumstances, further orthodontic treatment may not be necessary.
Do we still need to see our family dentist during orthodontic treatment?
Patients with braces and other orthodontic appliances require more effort to keep their teeth and gums clean. Because we want to insure the highest level of dental health, we recommend that you continue to see your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings every 6 months during treatment.