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While most young children do not need a first phase of orthodontic treatment, some issues are best and most effectively addressed when your child is young. This is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first see an orthodontist at the age of 7. At this age, children still have a lot of growing to do, and Drs. Christenson and Oakley can use your child’s already existing growth potential to improve her bite.

For example, if your daughter’s upper jaw is too narrow (she has a crossbite), a palatal expander can be used to widen the upper jaw before her suture fuses. If she doesn’t see an orthodontist before her suture fuses, more invasive (potentially surgical) treatments may be necessary to correct the crossbite.

A very specific group of treatments are recommended for young children as a “Phase 1” treatment (before the child is ready for full orthodontics). Drs. Christenson and Oakley will take the time to explain why your child may benefit from early treatment or if he can be just as easily treated in a single, comprehensive phase of orthodontics. Drs. C & O understand and agree that both parents and children prefer to get everything done at one time!

Some Reasons for Early Treatment

ReasonWhat's That?What Does it Look Like?What is Early Treatment Recommended?
UnderbiteThe top front teeth are behind the bottom front teeth when you bitePhoto of underbiteLimited braces or a retainer to move the front teeth and/or a headgear to help the upper jaw grow
Partial Anterior Crossbite1 or 2 of the top front teeth are behind the bottom front teeth and the rest are in frontPhoto of partial-anterior-crossbiteLimited braces (on the front teeth) to align the front teeth and correct the crossbite
Posterior CrossbiteThe top teeth in the back are inside the bottom teeth in the back. Either on one side or both.Photo of posterior-crossbiteIn a child, the roof of the mouth is 2 separate bones that can be easity separated to widen the upper jaw. During adolence, the 2 bones fuse in to a single bone, making it more difficult and invasive to widen the jaw.
Severe CrowdingThe permanent teeth do not have enough room to erupt (come through the gums) where they belong.Photo of severe crowdingMonitored extraction (removal) of baby teeth and possibly some permanent teeth.
Thumb or Finger HabitIf a thumb/finger sucking habit persists after age 6, the shape of the upper jaw can change so that there’s not overlap of the front teeth (an open bite)Photo of thumb habitAt home options therapies are the first and best option. If these don’t work, habit reminder appliances can be placed in the mouth.

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