We hear from time to time some concerns raised by parents regarding the concept of early orthodontic treatment.  These concerns typically revolve around why kids with baby teeth still in their mouth would have braces installed.  We’re here to clear the air a little on this concept by explaining some of the things early treatment is designed to assist.  So, “Is my kid too young for braces?”  We explain the pros and cons of early orthodontic treatment?

The Pros of Early Orthodontic Treatment

Though not always, early orthodontic treatment, also called Phase 1 treatment or interceptive orthodontics, can greatly reduce the complexity of and sometimes eliminate the need for full conventional orthodontics at older ages when your child’s permanent teeth have all emerged.

Interceptive orthodontics solve problems while your child’s gums and jawbones are super pliable.  These problems include some of the following:

  • Early loss of space preserving baby teeth and subsequent space stealing by other erupting teeth
  • Crossbites (a narrow arch biting awkwardly with opposing teeth)
  • This makes crowding worse
  • Can also lead to facial asymmetry if lower jaw is forced off to one side
  • Inadequate space for proper and timely eruption of future teeth
  • Severely protruding teeth
  • Prone to social trauma and physical injury

Correction of these problems at a young age is easier because of softer bones, shorter roots (less stick to move through the mud) and will help prevent future extraction of adult teeth and developing facial asymmetries that can become permanent if the child reaches the puberty growth spurt before it is corrected.

This gives your child a healthier smile that helps in sports–when malocclusions can be dangerous in case of injury– and on into the teen years–when kids become more conscious about how their teeth look.

Your child’s phase 1 treatment typically lasts only 10 to 15 months, plus an intervening period of retainer wear before the start of Phase 2 treatment when the remaining permanent teeth have erupted. Depending on the case, the extent and length of Phase 2 can be lessened after early orthodontics.

The Cons of Early Orthondontics

Patient burnout can happen. “We are dealing with kids here. They’re very smart and kids these days are more mature than ever,” says Dr AJ, “but they’re still kids. Starting early orthodontics is a commitment for the kid, not just the parent. We talk to the kids and make sure they’re really signing up for it with all the information they need. This makes them involved and more cooperative.”

Even with that, compliance still isn’t a sure thing. When equipment gets in the way of favorite activities and food.  “Our biggest problem is when parents are as involved as they need to be with their child’s oral hygiene.  Asking a 7 or 8 year old to brush perfectly with or without braces in their mouth is a tall task,” says Dr. Ari.

Younger kids definitely need closer supervision in taking care of their teeth and equipment, and regular visits to the orthodontist to monitor progress.

In this case, you want reputable pediatric orthodontic specialists who know kids and can get you and your child into the routine of care and visits pleasantly. You also want to see an orthodontist that can explain to you what things shouldn’t be addressed in early orthodontics as some problems are clearly better corrected during the growth spurt.  Our board certified orthodontists know the difference and will only recommend treatment that is obviously going to benefit your child’s growth and development.

The rewards of early orthodontics, when done for specific and well-explained reasons in a consultation with our orthodontic specialists, definitely outweigh the cons. Our orthodontists have great verbal and visual explanations of why these treatments can benefit your child and look forward to educating you about your child’s growth and development at your upcoming visit.

About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates

Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options.  We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.

39400 Garfield Rd., Suite 200
Clinton Township, MI
Phone: 586-286-0700
Fax: 586-286-5932