A: I have had many parents say to me, “It seems like kids are wearing braces earlier and earlier these days. Is it really necessary? Doesn’t my child need to lose all their baby teeth before they start with braces?” Those are excellent questions, and the answers are different for each child.
Orthodontic treatment can be recommended from childhood through adulthood. However, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children be seen by an orthodontist by age 7. Few patients will need to begin treatment at this age, but there are some children that will greatly benefit from early treatment.
Early treatment is indicated for children when they have jaw growth issues, a crossbite, or severe crowding. By providing early treatment, the orthodontist will be able to avoid large, more difficult issues in the future. Most patients who have had early treatment will require full treatment when all of their permanent teeth fully erupt. However, this second phase of treatment will require less treatment time since major issues have already been addressed.
A check-up while some baby teeth are still present and the jaws are growing may reveal that immediate treatment is not necessary, but future treatment will be needed when all permanent teeth have erupted. In these cases, the orthodontist will want to periodically monitor growth and development. These routine visits will give the opportunity for the orthodontist to advise parents when to begin treatment at an optimal time.
Information provided by Kyle R. Mann D.D.S., M.S., Mann Orthodontics, PLLC, 1551 S.E. Third St., Suite 200, (515) 986-4009, Grimes, www.mannorthodontics.com.