Orthodontic treatment for children is aimed for kids aged 6-8 years old. According to the American Federation of Orthodontists, a child’s first visit to the orthodontist should be at age 7 with a panoramic x-ray. In this visit, the specialist orthodontist will assess whether there is an occlusal anomaly, its nature (dental or skeletal etiology) as well as the necessity or not of a first phase of orthodontic treatment (Phase I).
Usually, at this age, skeletal anomalies (e.g. mandibular prognathism, cruciate occlusion) and parafunctional habits (e.g. finger sucking) are treated. This timely orthodontic intervention easily and quickly resolves skeletal problems (refer to the sizes and relationship of the two jaws) which in adolescence would be dealt with in a completely different and more difficult way. In addition, it creates space in the two dental arches, in order to facilitate the eruption of the permanent teeth.
In phase I of orthodontic treatment for children, mobile devices (e.g. braces, headgear), stationary devices (e.g. palate expanders) and less commonly braces are used. The duration of this treatment is usually one year.
Indicative signs for early orthodontic evaluation and possible initiation of a first phase of orthodontic treatment are the following:
- Early loss of baby teeth, usually before age 5.
- Breathing through the mouth or even snoring.
- Protruding upper front teeth.
- Difficulty in chewing, articulation and speaking.
- If the lower jaw deviates when opening or closing the mouth.
- Prolonged finger sucking beyond the age of 3 years
The benefits resulting from early and timely orthodontic treatment are multiple. Early intervention usually means that subsequent orthodontic treatment will be simpler and completed in less time, which can also be financially beneficial in the long run.
In recent years, this first phase of orthodontic treatment can be done alternatively with the method of Invisalign transparent braces. This consists of a package specially designed by Align Technology for these little patients in the first grades of elementary school, Invisalign first.
The treatment initiation process is the same for every Invisalign patient. It aims to widen the dental arches and create space for the permanent teeth that are about to come out. It also solves problems of crowding and protruding teeth. With the use of Invisalign aligners, there is no risk of injury or sores as with braces, while the risk of dislodged mechanisms is eliminated.
In addition, the risk of tooth decay and gingivitis due to poor oral hygiene in children of this age is significantly reduced. These transparent aligners are very easy to use, as they can be removed during eating and teeth brushing, while they do not affect speech and articulation in the slightest. Their use should last 20-22 hours a day to be effective.