Saxe Orthodontics
Saxe Orthodontics

When is the Best Time See a Children's Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or at age 7.

Why is Age 7 Considered the Optimal Time for Screening?

By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it possible for the orthodontist to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems more effectively. At this time Orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but a thorough examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.

What are Indications for an orthodontic evaluation?

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • A hard time chewing or biting food
  • Mouth breathing
  • Finger or thumb sucking
  • Crowded, misplaced, or blocked out teeth
  • Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
  • Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
  • Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes their mouth (crossbites)
  • Lip habits

What is Interceptive "Phase 1" Orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment that occurs between the ages of 7-10 is commonly called "Phase 1" or "Interceptive" treatment. Early treatment enables the top and bottom jaws to be precisely aligned as they develop; jaw size is coordinated with tooth size. Each child's growth potential is maximized so that all of the permanent teeth have room to come in naturally. In most cases, future problems such as extractions, impacted teeth and jaw surgeries are avoided!

What are the Advantages of Phase 1 Interceptive Treatment?

Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:

  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time with braces
  • Raise a young person's self esteem
  • Prevent impacted teeth by creating adequate space
  • Treatment is typically completed during middle school
  • Pre-teens are most cooperative and enthusiastic about wearing braces

If there is Phase 1, is there also a Phase 2? What is the difference?

Phase 1 orthodontics typically begins around age seven and lasts approximately 12-18 months. The goal for orthodontic treatment at this age is to intercept and correct existing or developing problems and to build a proper "foundation" for the remaining erupting adult teeth. A few simple appliances and partial braces are used in phase 1. After phase 1 goals are met, appliances and braces are removed and custom designed retainers are provided to the patient.

Retainer time between phases ranges from 12-36 months. During this period the remaining permanent teeth erupt. Patients are monitored periodically to ensure Phase I results are maintained, to monitor tooth eruption, and to determine the optimum time to begin phase 2- if needed.

Phase 2 begins when all the adult teeth have erupted and its purpose is to align all of the teeth and to perfect your smile.