The sooner you see us the better
Age 7 is just right!
Just in time
Routinely, young patients and their parents present around the teenage years for the very first time. World-leading specialist orthodontic associations and societies recommend that young patients’ teeth development should be screened around the age of 7 years. This is the best age to assess how the teeth are growing and if the bite is correct.
By seeing an orthodontist early, the advantages may include
- You can have peace of mind knowing your child’s development is going to plan
- Somethings are best treated early – utilising the child’s growth
- The bone is malleable and teeth move easily
- Avoids some problems with bite and teeth alignment developing
- It can save you money
- Young patients are enthusiastic and co-operative
- Helps reduce the chance of needing to remove permanent adult teeth later
- Your child will grow, having their best smile on display
- Straight teeth can improve your little one’s self esteem and appearance
- Can move protruding teeth back, decreasing the risk of injury
- You can plan if any future treatment is required
A few things
Our specialist orthodontist will look for
Baby tooth loss and eruption
Deciduous (baby) teeth are lost in a predictable order, and often when a baby tooth is lost too early or is over-retained, it can cause problems for the adult teeth coming through into the right place.
By the age of 7, most boys or girls will have lost 8 incisor baby teeth, should have 8 new adult incisor teeth and have 4 new adult molar teeth coming through! You see why it is a good time to have a check don’t you?
Sometimes removing a primary tooth early or maintaining a space where a tooth has been lost prematurely can prevent bigger problems later on.
Teeth can be aligned at any age. However, the younger the patient, the more malleable and adaptive the bone and soft tissue structures are to being moved and changed by our treatment. Furthermore, because some crooked teeth can be more susceptible to wear, having uneven and compromised overlying gums are possibly more prone to damage due to trauma – treatment started earlier may be much better for our patients. Lastly, a child’s smile has a huge influence on how they interact with other children, their self-perception and self-esteem – so avoiding social implications may be the result of early treatment.
Crowding and spacing ( “Sharkies” and “Gappies” )
As early as age 7, an orthodontist is sometimes able to tell if there are any problems relating to the future alignment of the teeth. Things like crowding or spacing are immediately evident.
Crowding may be treated with space maintainers, expanders or teeth extractions (and a few other techniques). Spacing can be an indication that a baby tooth has been lost prematurely, a tooth never developed (missing), or that the teeth are just too small.
One of the most difficult things to correct in orthodontics are missing teeth. Identifying this early can result in early planning and huge savings in both time and costs down the track. Sometimes, baby teeth can be taken out and the spaces redistributed, avoiding the need for braces later.
Protrusive front teeth ( having “Gappy” or “Buck” teeth )
By the age of 7 years, it will be obvious if the front upper teeth stick out. This is a situation we cannot always correct 100%, as we may need to wait for the majority of the permanent teeth to come through, before we are be able to correct the positions of the neighbouring teeth. However, we can often reduce the severity of most problems and make things a lot easier for our young patients… both orthodontically and socially!
It is so important to see our patients with underbite problems early, as these patients may benefit the most from being treated early. It is important to aim to normalise the front teeth positions and the bite as early as possible, so that we can eliminate both shifting of the bite and damage to front teeth as a result of trauma from the occlusion. A definitive correction may not always result, but an improvement is almost always achieved!
Posterior crossbites (upper teeth biting on the inside of the lower teeth) are a concern as they may result in the jaw shifting to the side. Often, this can also cause unsightly smiles and constricted upper arches. Correcting this early is hugely beneficial and makes life a lot easier!
A deep bite is problematic as it is one of the hardest things to correct in an adult, often requiring lengthy difficult treatment and maybe even surgery if severe enough. Correcting this early using plates or partial braces can be largely beneficial. Bites that are deep can result in gum damage (where the tooth teeth completely cover the lower teeth), tooth wear, and lower teeth crowding.
Habits (and anterior open bites)
A finger or thumb sucking habit can start to become very damaging in a 6-7 year old, with the development of an open contact between the front upper and lower teeth, where the tongue or thumb usually sit. It is imperative that every measure is taken to eliminate the habit before some serious outcomes take effect. We have many different tips, tricks and techniques up our sleeve to help your child stop the habit as easily and promptly as possible.
Similar to posterior crossbites, anterior crossbites involve the upper teeth biting on the inside of the lower teeth. These can result in the jaw shifting to the side, tooth wear and unsightly smiles. They can sometimes indicate a more serious problem that is a result of the jaws being in the wrong position, so you can appreciate that assessing children early with this problem, is really important. Sometimes, we are able to make the most of the growing and bone changes that are occurring and carry out much simpler treatment, than if the same problem presents when the patient is an adult.