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About Early Orthodontic Treatment

Phase One Ortho Prevents Larger Future Issues

Braces have long been considered a rite of passage for late elementary and middle school children because kids lose all of their primary teeth around age 12 or 13. However, you may have noticed children wearing braces as early as age six or seven. This treatment is known as phase one, interceptive, or early orthodontics, and it can help prevent bigger ortho issues later in life.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that by age seven, children visit the orthodontist for an assessment. However, Dr. Tun wants you to know that no one is too young for an orthodontic consult. Not all children need phase one treatment, but for those that do, phase one can significantly reduce the complexity of orthodontic issues during the teen and adult years.

Board-certified orthodontist Dr. Wint W. Tun offers phase one orthodontics with traditional braces and adjunct therapies, including palatal expanders, or with Invisalign First.

Symptoms of Needing Early Orthodontics

A family dentist may refer your child to an orthodontist, or you can schedule a visit on your own accord if you notice symptoms of potential orthodontic issues in your child. Note that while teeth may look straight, potential orthodontic problems can exist. Only an orthodontist or experienced dentist can spot some issues. Some children may need early orthodontics, while others may not require braces until age 12 or later. 

Common issues parents can watch for:

  • Crossbite of front teeth

  • Crossbite of back teeth/narrow upper palate

  • Crowding of upper or lower teeth

  • Open bite

  • Protrusion of top front two to four teeth

  • Deep bite

  • Underbite

  • Wide spacing of permanent teeth

  • Thumbsucking or pacifier use beyond age four

  • Habitual tongue thrusting

If your child loses her primary (baby) teeth early or late or shows trouble biting or chewing food, bring her in to see Dr. Tun. Mouth breathing, jaws that pop, nighttime teeth grinding, and speech difficulties can also be symptoms of needing phase one orthodontic therapy. If your child’s face appears unbalanced, she regularly bites her cheeks, or her bottom teeth hit the roof of her mouth, she should visit Dr. Tun for a consultation.

However, it’s important to note that some space between baby teeth is good. It means there’s ample room for the larger, underlying permanent teeth to properly develop.

Malocclusions (“bad bites”) like those illustrated below, may benefit from
early diagnosis and referral to an orthodontic specialist for a full evaluation.

Purpose of Interceptive Orthodontics

The purpose of early orthodontic intervention is to correct developmental issues during childhood when the jawbone is rapidly growing. Phase one therapy creates space in the jaw for emerging teeth. This prevents crowding and malocclusion, which can become complex orthodontic issues that are harder to treat after bone growth slows.

Another benefit of early orthodontics is that it can guide permanent teeth into ideal alignment for positive occlusion and esthetics. In many cases, phase one treatment reduces the time in braces later in life, as well as the expense of complex treatment.

Additionally, interceptive orthodontics can reduce the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth, which are prone to chip or break when a child falls or sustains a blow to the face. Parents can also appreciate that children with unattractive orthodontic issues will not be subjected to negative comments (bullying) if the issues are corrected.

If your child sucks on her thumb, fingers, or pacifier beyond age two, and she needs a palatal expander, a modified expander will pull double duty. Having the device in place will also deter sucking on things–including fingers and thumbs.

Does your child need phase one orthodontics?

Only a consultation will reveal the answer. Schedule a no-cost, no-obligation for your child by calling our Tomball orthodontic office at 832-699-3683. We are located off Kuykendahl Road in suite 230, near Spurlin Trail. Parents and children enjoy our bright, welcoming office, and we are currently accepting new patients.