Orthodontic treatment in young children is known as interceptive orthodontics or 2 phase treatment, and it can begin as early as age 7-9. At this age, teeth are still developing and the jaw is still growing. That means certain conditions, such as severe crowding in front teeth, cross bite correction, jaw expansion, jaw growth problems like one jaw growing less than other etc may be easier to address at early age. More treatment usually is needed later on in second phase, but it may be shorter and simplified.
It is important to note that early treatment does not apply to all orthodontic problems; however, it may help in certain cases.
Kids braces have improved a lot in the past couple of decades. Technology has made them more comfortable and more attractive than the braces most parents remember wearing.
Benefits of early orthodontics:
Early braces treatment is helpful in following situations.
Normally upper teeth are always in front of lower teeth. However sometimes one or many upper teeth are behind lower teeth, This condition is called as cross bite and it has to be corrected as soon as noticed at around 6-8 years of age.
Benefit: cross bite in front tooth leads to gums damage in lower front teeth due to high biting friction (as seen in picture above), which can be easily corrected with 3-5 months of short braces in upper front teeth only.
Sometimes upper jaw is too much narrow ‘V’ shaped due to mouth breathing during early age of development or thumb sucking habit etc. this can lead to unfavorable jaw growth and cross bit in chewing teeth. This can be corrected at around 9-11 years of age with jaw expansion procedure.
Benefit: This if done at early age can benefit from normal development of jaw and face, improve bite and in some situation can avoid future need for surgical expansion.
Benefit: Jaw correction done at early age can avoid need for surgical correction at later age and also can improve hygiene and confidence of child at tender age.
In case of severe crowding where if space is provided with serial extraction procedure to new growing permanent teeth, they grow in correct alignment naturally and later need fixed braces can be avoided or simplified to shorter treatment, As seen in below X-Rays.
X- ray take at 9 years of age where all 4 canines do not have space to grow.
Same patient X-ray taken at 11 years of age where it shows that now all canine have space to come out naturally at correct position in jaw.
In serial extraction procedure some milk teeth and permanent teeth are removed in sequential manner as shown in video, to allow other teeth to come out in mouth more easily.
Benefit: If serial extraction is not performed at early age than it may lead to severe crowing, brushing problem leading to cavities and swollen gums (as seen in picture) and also lengthy braces treatment later on to align teeth.