The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a check-up with an orthodontic specialist by the age of 7.
By this age most children have some adult molars and incisors along with their baby teeth. While most children at this age will not need treatment, there are some who could greatly benefit from early treatment to prevent more serious problems. An orthodontist can spot subtle issues with emerging teeth and jaw growth, and in these cases, may recommend early treatment, also called "Phase I (Phase One)"treatment.
In some cases the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that are not possible once the face and jaws have grown further.
An example of this is if a child has a narrow upper jaw, or maxilla.
Before a certain age this narrow maxilla can be corrected with a
special expander appliance because the in younger children the
upper jaw exists in 2 pieces and can easily be separated or widened.
As the child grows into puberty and beyond, the jaw bones fuse and
can no longer be widened without surgery.
Phase I or Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to:
Widen a narrow maxilla (upper jaw)
Guide jaw growth
Lower the risk of trauma to protruded teeth
Correct harmful oral habits
Guide permanent teeth into proper positions
Save space for erupting adult teeth in areas where baby teeth exfoliated early
Phase I treatment typically takes place between the ages of 7-9.
Phase II treatment, or what most people think of as full orthodontic braces, typically begins around age 11 or older.
Most young children do not need early Phase I treatment. For these patients, they will be a part of our Junior Observation program to have periodic complimentary observation as they grow. Once enough adult teeth are in, then Dr. Hocking can advise if orthodontic treatment is recommended.
For those children who do need Phase I treatment, once this treatment is complete Dr. Hocking will continue to monitor growth and development until enough adult teeth are in. At that stage any Phase II (full treatment) recommendations will be discussed.