We welcome our guest writer and wellness partner, Dr. Michael Erhart, a licensed specialist in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics Dr. Erhart’s Naperville, IL practice is limited to orthodontics for children, adolescents, and adults.
On average children are ready to begin comprehensive or “full” braces when they have lost all of their primary or baby teeth and the adolescent dentition is complete or nearly complete (having all of their adult teeth with the exception of wisdom teeth). This usually occurs between the ages of 11 to 13. However, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have a screening visit around the age of 7.
Why so early? The reason is, this age typically coincides with the eruption of the upper and lower permanent incisors or front teeth. Now rest assured, most children do not need any treatment following their initial screenings and are simply placed on an annual or biannual schedule to continue to monitor their developing dentitions. These visits, along with your 6 month check ups with your family dentist, will assure you that your child is monitored appropriately.
On the other hand, it is also at this time that a number of early bite problems can occur and should be addressed at this early age.
Some common problems that you may be familiar with are:
- Anterior and posterior cross bites (where the upper front incisor teeth do not overlap the lower front incisor teeth or the upper back molar teeth do not overlap the lower molar teeth respectively….. like a lid on a shoe box ). Leaving cross bites unresolved can result in uneven wear of the permanent teeth, undo pressure on opposing teeth, which can weaken the gums and supporting bone, and shifting of the lower jaw and bite, which can lead to uneven or asymmetric jaw growth. Solutions can involve palatal expanders and / or limited braces.
- Another common problem is significant crowding of the incisor teeth. In some cases the crowding is so severe that all of the new incisor teeth cannot properly erupt. This can be addressed with selected early removal of adjacent primary teeth by your dentist to temporarily gain space for the permanent incisors, or with orthodontic arch development (via palatal expanders and space maintainers) to help improve the available space for the new permanent teeth.
Together your family dentist and orthodontist can guide you throughout these important childhood years to help them achieve a healthy and pleasing smile.