For Young Kids, Orthodontics Isn’t Just About A Pretty Smile



Every parent wants their child to be able to smile with confidence but for many, that’s not the only reason to investigate orthodontics at an early age. While the average age for orthodontic treatment is around 12 years old, we at O’Neill Orthodontics have a mission to focus on children 7 and up, keeping with the American Association of Orthodontics’ guidelines. Why, age seven, you ask?

Early Orthodontic treatment has many benefits. An orthodontic consult at an early age can catch future issues and adjust for them before they become problems. Some of these issues include:

Crossbites: by age 7 most children’s permanent molars and incisors have come in. A trained eye can see early on if crowding or crossbites will be an issue as the rest of your child’s permanent teeth come in. The earlier treatment begins, the easier it will be because your child’s jaw is less developed at this early age and can be guided along the right path rather than working to reverse issues at a later age.

Overcrowding: Traditionally, orthodontists would say wait until age 11 or 12 to treat a crowding problem, but the problem isn’t going to get any better by waiting. Early treatment has been proven to correct narrow arch and create space for the teeth as well as for the tongue so it may function correctly when swallowing. Plus, early treatment can avoid the need for future tooth extraction or jaw surgery.

Airway Obstruction: well-developed airways allow normal breathing through the nose when the mouth is closed. While this may sound trivial, nasal breathing is important because it’s now known to be vital to good health. Airway obstruction has been linked to developmental delays, sleep disorders, behavioral disturbances, and later can lead to hypertension, stroke, heart disease and even premature death. These sound scary but the treatment is easy if we are able to catch it early on!* We all can relate to our little ones that struggle with allergies!

The benefits of Early Orthodontic treatment are clear:

Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct any habits that can cause bad bite later on, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment. Speaking of…

Two-Phase Treatment. Phase 1 works with your young child to make space for their permanent teeth. Phase 2 begins once they’ve arrived. Often children who undergo Phase 1 treatment have a much shorter Phase 2. This makes life easier for both them and you as their schedules get busier and busier.

Not every 7 year old will need early treatment, but if they do need early treatment and if it is caught early on by a trained orthodontist, like Dr. O’Neill, it could make a big difference in their overall treatment outcomes. Phase one orthodontics allows Dr. O’Neill to take advantage of your child’s growth to guide his or her teeth and jaw, possibly avoiding future extractions.

Knowing the importance of early orthodontics is only part of the battle. Then the question is who do you trust to give you an accurate and individualized opinion? We at O’Neill Orthodontics focus on your child’s individual needs – there is no universal treatment plan. We will work with your child and your family to create a treatment plan that addresses your child’s best interests.

Our unique office is located in New Freedom, PA – we’re an easy drive for all our PA and Maryland patients and provide top-notch care in a sophisticated, tech-savvy office. Dr. Nancy O’Neill is a Board Certified Orthodontist and a graduate of the University of Maryland. If you’re looking for excellence, you’re looking for O’Neill Orthodontics. We can’t wait to meet you.

Contact us today for a complimentary consultation! Click below to request an appointment:

*Note: While Dr. O’Neill can spot airway obstruction, she will always refer your child to a specialist to diagnose. If diagnosed with Sleep Apnea or Airway Obstruction, Dr. O’Neill is certified and an expert with treatment!