Many children develop crooked teeth and other orthodontic issues at a young age. But how early is too early for orthodontic treatment? In some cases, early orthodontic treatment is recommended, but in other cases it is wisest to wait until the child has developed all of his or her permanent teeth.
Certain orthodontic problems require early intervention. For example, if a child has a crossbite, it can lead to uneven jaw growth and problems with chewing. In cases like this, a retainer can help widen the dental arch, correcting the crossbite. Likewise, a very narrow dental arch may not leave a child's teeth enough room to emerge and should be corrected at a young age. In many cases, young children may need to have one or more teeth removed to make room for adult teeth to grow in, or a tooth may erupt in the wrong direction and need to be corrected.
While early orthodontic intervention is recommended in rare cases, the majority of children need to wait until their adult teeth have come in before undergoing orthodontic treatment. During a routine dental examination, your child's dentist will evaluate his or her bite, facial growth, tooth spacing, and any extra or crooked teeth. Your child will also be examined for signs of tongue thrusting or thumb-sucking, which can inhibit normal dental development and change facial appearance, in rare cases. Most likely, these problems (if they exist at all) won't be severe enough to require early orthodontic treatment. Your dentist will simply monitor any issues while your child's mouth grows and develops.
Braces and other orthodontic treatment can help your child achieve a beautiful smile, but if they are used too soon, they can just be a waste of your money. Be sure to work closely with your dentist and orthodontist to determine when the time is right for your child's orthodontic treatment.