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Monday, June 27, 2022

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Straight Talk: When to See and Orthodontist

For many teens and preteens, braces are a rite of passage. However, orthodontic treatment often can help younger children, too. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have their first visit at age 7 to identify any problems with jaw growth or teeth alignment. Early treatment can shorten the amount of time a child may need braces later.

“Early orthodontic treatment, also known as Phase I Treatment, is designed for kids ages 6 to 10,” says Dr. Lauren Lockhart, an orthodontist at several Coast Dental locations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. “At this age, we are evaluating for abnormalities in development, addressing any habits, or simply monitoring the development of the teeth and jaws. Bringing your child in at this age may assist in making future orthodontic treatment less complex.”

Phase I Treatment can help correct crossbites, underbites, deep bites, open bites and other problems. It also can correct the damage caused by habits like thumb sucking, which can cause a child to have buck teeth. Your orthodontist may recommend your child use a habit appliance to break a bad habit (thumb sucking, sucking on a blanket, sucking too hard on an upper or lower lip).

Appliances, such as palatal expanders, help to expand the jaw or, in the case of crowded teeth, help to open the bite and make room for the permanent teeth. There also are appliances that do the opposite; if the teeth are spaced too far apart, the appliances can help close the bite.

Phase I Treatment typically lasts 12 to 18 months and can shorten or eliminate the amount of time your child may need braces once all the permanent teeth have developed. Best of all, it places the teeth in a more stable position and can prevent bigger orthodontic problems from developing. Now that gives you and your child something to smile about!

Coast Dental offers free orthodontic consultations for adults and children.

 

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