Early treatment: What is it? Does your child need it?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have an orthodontic evaluation at age 7 to monitor for any tooth or jaw problems that may interfere with growth and can be corrected or mitigated with early treatment (placing braces before all permanent teeth have erupted).


how to tell if your child may need early treatment

Early treatment (also known as "Phase 1 treatment") may be needed if any of the following are observed:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five, and will have all permanent teeth around age 13)
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb-sucking after age five
  • Underbite
  • Speech impediments
  • Teeth sticking out, causing discomfort
  • Shifting of the jaw to one side when your child opens or closes (crossbites)
  • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
Open bite caused by thumb sucking habit.

what causes early tooth and bite problems?

Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.


how will early treatment benefit my child?

Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones harden and stop growing. After growth is complete, orthodontic treatment often takes more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child corrects immediate problems that would cause growth disturbances. Phase 1 treatment may also minimize the need for extractions or surgery in the future.