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The Art of Orthodontics: Does My Child Need Braces?

February 22, 2016


Does My Child Need Early Treatment?


Childrens orthodontics - Oklahoma City dental specialists healthy teeth and smile

Early treatment in orthodontics is defined as the partial correction of a child’s orthodontic problems as a Phase I treatment, usually beginning at the time when some primary and some permanent teeth are present.  Typically, this is considered between the age of 7 and 12.  Early treatment is also categorized as before all permanent teeth have erupted and your child has started their adolescent growth spurt.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends a child’s first orthodontic checkup occur at age 7.  This being said, it is confusing to parents whether treatment for their child really needs to begin at age 7.  The answer 8 times of 10 is NO!!!  Unfortunately, there has been a trend for some orthodontists with every child they see to begin early braces.  This is not always needed.  Necessary early treatment should be reserved for situations that may progressively get worse or be more difficult to correct at a later stage of development.

Problems that typically require Early Orthodontic Treatment:

  1. Severe crowding with permanent teeth blocked from eruption
  2. Jaw growth issues
  3. Crossbite of the front or back teeth
  4. Oral, tongue, or digit habits
  5. Mouth breathing
  6. Severe protrusion (Overjet) of the front teeth


The above listed problems can be successfully managed early and will save time and expense later.  Most other orthodontic issues can wait and will be treated at less total time and expense when your child is a teenager.

Some families may decide to proceed with an Elective Early Treatment.  An open, honest discussion with a specialist in orthodontics can help you decide whether to consider an early treatment to correct significant anterior misalignment or other dental problems that may be effecting a child’s social interaction.  This is a perfectly acceptable approach and should be the family’s decision after being explained their choices.

Our office offers a complimentary examination to help your family explore what treatment approach is right for your child.