Early Orthodontics

At what age should a child first visit the orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening by the age of 7. This allows Dr. Pawlak to determine whether early orthodontic treatment is recommended. 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 help with bone and arch development, guide erupting teeth, regain or preserve space for permanent tooth eruption, lessen the need for permanent tooth extractions, lessen the instance of permanent tooth impactions, eliminate habits such as thumb sucking and, in some instances, reduce the risk of trauma to the front teeth. In other words, early treatment can often simplify future comprehensive treatment! Dr. Pawlak will let you know if your child is a candidate for early treatment.

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.  Dr. Pawlak will develop a treatment plan based on each individual child’s needs. If the patient is not ready for treatment, Dr. Pawlak will continue to monitor their growth and development until treatment is indicated.

What is the Growth and Development Program?

The growth and development program is for patients who are not ready for treatment and have been placed on recall. This program enables Dr. Pawlak to monitor the eruptive pattern of the permanent teeth. Sometimes early removal of baby teeth is indicated, and we can notify your general or pediatric dentist of any recommendations made during your visit.  The recall interval will vary based on the patient’s needs, anywhere from 3-12 months. There is no fee for this program and it helps to determine the optimum time to begin treatment and achieve the best possible result for your child.

In addition to a beautiful new smile, what are some other benefits of orthodontic treatment?

Braces can improve the bite, prevent wear on the teeth if associated with a traumatic bite and improve access for good oral hygiene, increasing 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 can begin the correction of significant problems, prevent more severe problems from developing and simplify future treatment. Because all of the permanent teeth have not yet erupted, early treatment is often followed by a comprehensive phase in the teen years. Any concerns not addressed with early treatment will be resolved in the comprehensive phase. However, in some cases, 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 healthy. Because we want to ensure the highest level of dental health, we recommend you see your general or pediatric dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings at least every 6 months during treatment.