Most people associate orthodontics with teenagers, but these treatments can sometimes begin earlier.
Early intervention can help to correct problems such as crooked teeth or a misaligned bite while a child’s teeth are still developing. This can sometimes mean they won’t need to wear braces later, or that their future orthodontic treatments will be easier.
The Australian Society of Orthodontists recommends that children have an orthodontic assessment
between ages 8 to 10. This can be carried out by an orthodontist or a suitably qualified dentist.
When is orthodontics recommended?
Your child’s dentist will likely spot orthodontic issues during their regular check-up, but children develop so fast that parents should also know the warning signs to look out for. Your child could benefit from early orthodontic treatment if:
- they start to lose their baby teeth before the age of five
- their teeth don’t come together when biting
- their front teeth stick out or appear crowded
- their teeth have large gaps or are unevenly spaced
- they have difficulty chewing or speaking
- they suck their thumb or fingers after five years old
If you spot these or other unusual signs, you should make an appointment with your child’s dentist for a professional assessment.
What happens at your child’s assessment?
Most children don’t need orthodontic treatment, but an assessment gives their dentist the chance to evaluate their existing teeth and incoming teeth and to look for possible signs of problems that could be corrected at an early stage.
Orthodontic assessments are carried out around the age 8, by which time the first permanent teeth have usually appeared. This gives dentists a good idea of whether problems such as crowding or a bad bite are likely to develop, and whether early treatment could be beneficial.
When can orthodontics begin?
Early orthodontics may be recommended from ages 8 to 10 if delaying treatment until their teens could damage a child’s teeth, is causing difficulties with eating or speaking, or if protruding teeth are leading to bullying or low self-confidence.
If your child’s dentist thinks early treatment could be helpful, they will discuss the treatments they offer. Orthodontic training appliances can help children’s teeth and jaws to grow correctly, create more space in the mouth to prevent crowding, or prevent bad habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting.
What’s the best age for braces?
Braces and other intensive orthodontic treatments usually begin around age 11 or 12, depending on the individual, by which time most or all of the permanent teeth will have erupted.
Older teenagers and adults can also benefit from braces, but treatments are usually easier, faster and more reliable before the late teens, when the teeth and jaws become harder and less pliable.
Orthodontic treatment using braces usually takes 1 to 2 years to complete. A retainer also needs to be worn for a period after the treatment to help maintain the new position of the teeth and jaws.
The cost of braces and other orthodontic treatments for children and teenagers may be covered in full or part by government-funded schemes such as the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS).
Book an orthodontic assessment in Erskineville
If you’re thinking about braces or other orthodontic treatments for you or your children, contact our team at Sydney Park Dental to find out how we can help.
Call us today on (02) 8084 7170 or make an appointment online.
Orthodontics Australia. Benefits of early treatment [Online] 2016 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://orthodonticsaustralia.org.au/benefits-of-early-treatment/