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At the orthodontic office of Dr. Douglas J. Knight in Tacoma, WA, we encourage all parents to bring their children in for an early orthodontic evaluation. Receiving orthodontic care earlier rather than later can pose as a huge advantage for the development of your child’s teeth and mouth as well as their future oral health. If Dr. Knight determines that it is too early for treatment, he and his team will be able to ascertain when your child will be ready and when treatment should commence. Please read below to find answers to any early treatment questions you might have. If you have further questions please feel free to contact our office and we will be happy to assist you.

When is the best time to begin orthodontics?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest results and the least amount of time and expenses. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, however detailed examination can anticipate the best time to begin treatment.

How will early orthodontic evaluation benefit my child?

Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Cautious intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. The sooner you act, the lower risk your child will have of developing future problems. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.

Why age 7?

By the time a child turns 7, the first molars erupt, thus establishing the back bite. This is an ideal time for orthodontists to evaluate front-to-back and side-to-tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an amazing smile earlier in your child’s life.

What are some orthodontic problems I should look out for?

According to the AAO, the following are some early warning signs that your child may need orthodontic treatment:

  1. Early or late loss of baby teeth
  2. Difficulty chewing or biting
  3. Mouth breathing
  4. Finger sucking or other oral habits
  5. Crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
  6. Jaws that shift, make sounds, protrude or are recessed
  7. Speech difficulty
  8. Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
  9. Protruding teeth
  10. Teeth that meet in an abnormal way or don’t meet at all
  11. Facial imbalance or asymmetry
  12. Grinding or clinching of teeth

What are the advantages of preventive orthodontics?

Some of the direct results of early orthodontic treatment are:

  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Creating facial symmetry by influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time with braces

My child has a bad bite, should it be treated?

Malocclusions, or bad bites, are misalignments of the teeth that occur when the upper and lower jaw do not line up correctly. Untreated bad bites can result in a variety of problems:

  • Crowded teeth are more difficult to brush and floss properly, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease.
  • Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accident chipping.
  • Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear
  • Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and cause speech impediments

At Dr. Knight’s Tacoma orthodontic office, we know that orthodontics can be a daunting idea to both you and your child. This is why we offer top-of-the-line treatments in a comfortable, welcoming and safe environment. Ultimately, orthodontics will do more than give your child a beautiful smile – it will create a healthier smile that will last him or her a lifetime! If you would like to schedule an appointment for your child, please contact our Tacoma, WA office today!