What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment, and regular orthodontic treatment and why might my child need early treatment?

Young woman smiling showing white teeth

It is recommended by The Canadian Association of Orthodontists for children to see an orthodontist as early as age seven. An Orthodontist will evaluate whether your child will need orthodontic treatment at this time, or educate you as to timing future orthodontic treatment, if needed.

Early treatment (also known as Phase-One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase-Two will begin around age 11 or older). Our goal in early interceptive orthodontic treatment is to correct and control the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems, such as an underbite since the patient is still undergoing facial and dental growth. Early treatment helps to make room for permanent teeth to come in correctly, lessening the chance of extractions in the future and sometimes even avoiding the need for Phase-Two treatment.

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Does your child need an orthodontic examination?

Your child may be in need of an orthodontic examination if he or she:

  • Lost baby teeth at a very early age
  • Grinds their teeth, especially during sleep
  • Has crowded, misaligned, blocked or protruding teeth
  • Has chewing or biting difficulty
  • Has oral habits such as sucking fingers
  • Displays clicking or shifting in the jaw
  • Is embarrassed by the look of their smile

What are the benefits of early or interceptive treatment?

Interceptive orthodontic treatment can bring about the following benefits:

  • Provide ample space for incoming permanent teeth
  • Ensure proper width of lower and upper dental arches
  • Reduce the need for permanent teeth extraction
  • Reduce the chance of developing blocked out permanent teeth
  • Eliminate speech and swallowing problems
  • Eliminate oral habits, such as thumb-sucking
  • Reduce trauma to the teeth
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Allow facial harmony to fully express between the upper and lower jaws
  • We recommend that you bring in your child for a complimentary consultation. We can also book you for a separate appointment so we can discuss your child’s treatment options and associated costs in more detail.

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    How to tell if your child may need early orthodontic treatment:

    • Early or late loss of baby teeth (on average, your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all their permanent teeth around age 13)
    • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
    • Mouth breathing
    • Your child continues sucking their thumb after age five
    • Speech impediments
    • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
    • Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner or even at all
    • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes their mouth (crossbites)
    • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight

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