Early Intervention

While there is no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends visiting the orthodontist at age seven. By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it easier for the orthodontist to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery, and also to identify bad habits such as persistent mouth breathing.

“Shut your mouth!” can be good for children to hear:


Why two phases of treatment?

Early intervention (also called Phase One treatment) typically begins at age eight or nine. Phase Two treatment typically begins at age 11 or older. Learn more about two-phase treatment.

Early Phase One treatment can prevent the need for more expensive tooth extractions and/or jaw surgery in the future.

Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Two-phase treatment can avoid the need for orthodontics as an adult and leave little to no chance of needing extractions or surgery later in life.

Early intervention allows your orthodontist to:

  • Correct and guide the growth of your child’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
  • Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
  • Create more space for crowded teeth
  • Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
  • Correct thumb sucking and mouth breathing, and help improve minor speech problems

Consider seeing an orthodontist if you notice:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (before age 5 and after age 13)
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Finger or thumb sucking after age 5
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
  • Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
  • Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
  • Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
  • Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
  • Crowded front teeth at age seven or eight

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will perform an initial exam and discuss the best steps to take toward caring for your child’s smile.