Early Orthodontics

When should a child first see an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that most children should have an orthodontic screening by age 7. This allows Dr. Charles Ruff to determine if treatment will be necessary, and also forecast the best time for the patient to be treated. Nowadays, lots of dentists have been trained to identify orthodontic problems early. For this reason, your family dentist may refer you to an orthodontic office earlier than age 7.

Why do kids need to see an orthodontist so early?

Diagnosing orthodontic problems at a young age allows an orthodontic professional such as Dr. Charlie to guide erupting teeth into a more favorable position. Early orthodontic treatment can also preserve space for permanent teeth and reduce the chances of protruded front teeth being fractured later in childhood.

If it seems that early treatment is recommended, then Dr. Charlie can guide the growth of the jaw and incoming permanent teeth. Dr. Charlie can also influence the width of the upper and lower dental arches, create space for permanent teeth, avoid future extractions of permanent teeth, reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, reverse any negative effects of thumb-sucking, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment, after all the permanent teeth erupt.

Can you be too early?

Patients who are not ready for treatment are placed in our Smiles for ME Kids Club. This program enables us to monitor the eruptive pattern of permanent teeth. Sometimes, poor erupted patterns of permanent teeth may be eliminated with early removal of baby teeth and reduce the treatment time required for braces. We will notify your general dentist of any recommendations made during your visit. While your child is in this club, all the appointments and progress x-rays are complimentary.

Does early treatment benefit all children?

Not necessarily. For some orthodontic problems, it is better to wait until the teen years when all the permanent teeth have erupted. To ensure the most effective and efficient treatment, some skeletal orthodontic problems should not be addressed until growth is more advanced or completed. Dr. Charlie can develop a plan for treatment based on each individual child’s needs. If Dr. Charlie determines that the patient is not ready for treatment, they are placed on our orthodontic supervisory program.

In addition to a beautiful new smile, what are some other benefits of orthodontic treatment?

Braces can improve the functionality of teeth and bite, enhance the ability to clean the teeth, prohibit wear on the teeth, and help the patient’s natural teeth last longer.

If a child has treatment early, will this prevent the need for braces as an adolescent?

Early treatment can address significant problems as well as prevent more severe problems from developing. Early orthodontic treatment can also and simplify and increase the success rate of future treatments.

Since the child’s permanent teeth have usually not yet erupted when early treatment is performed, the final alignment of the teeth may not have been corrected. Generally speaking, a shorter phase of treatment (Phase II – full braces) during the teen years (after the eruption of all the permanent teeth) completes the correction. Meanwhile, in some cases, additional orthodontic treatment may not be necessary.

Do we still need to see our family dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Patients with braces and other orthodontic appliances require more effort to keep their teeth and gums clean. To ensure the highest level of dental health, it is still recommended that you see your family dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings every six months during treatment.