What Age to Start Treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist no later than age 7. In some cases the severity of the problem can be reduced by an early phase of treatment. Dr. Girardot prefers to see children for an initial examination at approximately age 6. However, this varies considerably from one child to another. Indeed, we have widened the upper jaw in children as young as 4 years old. Expanding the upper jaw is the most common form of early treatment in our office. It is usually accompanied by simple widening of the lower molars. This procedure can have an important positive affect on the airway (nasal breathing) as well as the bite.

Youngsters are sometimes prone to nighttime grinding, which can damage permanent teeth, the jaw joints, or cause headaches. Dr. G has remedies for these conditions.
If there is early treatment, we like to keep it short in duration and effective. The patient will most likely need full orthodontic treatment at about age 12 and we don’t want to “wear them out” with extensive early treatment.

Often, Dr. G does not recommend any treatment at this early age; however, it is best to be at the forefront of any disharmony. We do not want to miss the opportunity to confront a problem that can be reduced or solved at an early age. It is very rare that a child “grows out” of an orthodontic problem.

Dr. G may recommend we place the child in “recall/observation”, this simply means we see the child once or twice a year so Dr. G can monitor such things as growth, tooth eruption, and functional problems. The idea is to keep things in check until the problems can be dealt with all at once. There is no charge for recall/observe appointments.

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