Intercepting problems before they arise and redesigning little smiles that get better with time. Walker Orthodontics is here to help you spot the early signs that your child may be a candidate for orthodontic care.

When should children see an Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children see an orthodontist (not just a dentist) for a checkup by age 7. At this point, your child’s mouth will have developed enough to detect early problems with the jaw, bone structure, and developing or emerging adult teeth. While dentists evaluate the overall health of the teeth and mouth and advise about brushing, flossing and cavities, orthodontists specialize in a proper bite, or the way the teeth and jaws function.

At Walker Orthodontics, we’re passionate believers in the power of early orthodontic intervention. Anywhere between 4 and 7 years old is the ideal time to catch warning signs and swiftly remedy certain issues before they require more invasive, costly procedures to correct. The moral of the story: there’s often more than meets the eye, so it’s important to see an orthodontist at an early age.

What is early treatment (Phase 1)?

After an initial consultation, Dr. Matt and his team may deem your child is a candidate for early treatment (otherwise known as Phase 1 treatment). This process will help intercept developing problems and ultimately help prevent larger problems from arising as children grow into their permanent teeth, or later in life. Phase 1 treatment typically takes approximately 8-12 months. If needed, this phase may include dentofacial orthopedic procedures. Dr. Matt has extensive training in this specialty and can help guide the growth of a patient’s bone structure to repair imbalances of the face and jaw. After this initial phase of treatment, we schedule periodic observation appointments to monitor your child, and once most or all their adult teeth have erupted, we evaluate whether Phase 2 treatment is necessary to align their teeth and adjust their bite.

If after the initial consultation we decide that your child isn’t quite ready for treatment, we’ll place them in our Kids Observation Club. This is a special complimentary service to help monitor your child every 3-12 months, depending on their unique needs, to ensure that their teeth are developing as planned (for instance, checking if baby teeth are falling out in the correct sequence or if adult teeth are coming in at the correct angulations).

When do children generally start Phase 2 treatment?

On average, kids that need Phase 2 treatment typically get it between the ages of 11 and 14, when most or all their permanent teeth are in. Dr. Matt will work hand-in-hand with you to determine the best treatment plan for your child’s needs.

What are signs your child may need orthodontic treatment?

  • Crowded teeth
  • Missing teeth/early loss of baby teeth
  • Facial muscle/lip strain or imbalance
  • Narrow upper jaw (palate)
  • Underbite or deep overbite
  • Thumb-sucking (which can shift teeth over time and deform the upper jaw/palate)
  • Consistently breathing through the mouth and snoring (sleep disordered breathing)
  • Blocked/misplaced teeth
  • Jaws set too far forward or too far back
  • Teeth that don’t meet properly
  • Protrusive front teeth
  • Difficulty speaking, eating or drinking

What are benefits of early treatment?

Early treatment can be life-changing for many children. It provides space for adult teeth to erupt, prevents future impaction, may reduce tooth grinding, eliminates trauma or breakage of protrusive front teeth, prevents gum recession, modifies growth for a balanced and aligned facial and jaw structure, and boosts self-confidence. In addition, early intervention and treatment may prevent invasive dentofacial orthopedic surgeries and adult tooth extractions in the future.