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Many parents are surprised to hear that children should see an orthodontist at the age of 7. After all, quite a few of us got braces around 14 or 15, and then wore them for two, three, or even four years. However, many children require early orthodontic treatment because they develop issues with their jaw and their teeth by the time their baby teeth start to fall out. It’s not unusual for kids’ teeth to be crowded – after all, they have small jaws when they’re young, but they’re also starting to get their larger, adult teeth. While kids have 20 baby teeth, adults have 32, including their wisdom teeth.
Many kids have all of their adult teeth by the time they are in their early teens. However, most children are either starting the time of their greatest growth or haven’t yet started by that time. Their mouths and jaws are still small, making it difficult for all of their adult teeth to be in place without any crowding. In the past, dentists and orthodontists would sometimes extract baby teeth to ensure that there was enough room for adult teeth to erupt and grow in.
Now, with the considerable advances that orthodontics has made within the past 20 years, Gutiérrez Orthodontics in Tampa helps children by providing two-phase orthodontic treatment. This common treatment works with the growth of your child.
Since children’s bones are still growing when they are grade schoolers (including their jaws), it’s a perfect time to start this treatment, which may take several years and is guided by your child’s growth and development.
At the beginning of Phase One, Dr. Gutiérrez may use a palatal expander as the first step. This orthodontic appliance will slowly and gently widen the upper arch of teeth, allowing the teeth to come in more easily, and with more room. The expander will stay in the mouth for several months, and your child may then get braces to help straighten the teeth or to fix bite problems. This part of the treatment also likely means that your child will spend less time wearing braces while they’re in middle school during the second phase.
After Phase One is complete, your child enters the resting phase for several years. During this time, all adult teeth will appear, and as your child grows, their mouth will grow, too.
At the beginning of Phase Two, Dr. Gutiérrez will evaluate your child, and braces will be placed on both the upper and lower teeth. Their treatment will proceed with regular check-ups at our office, and by the time your child reaches high school, they will likely be finished wearing braces. One of the benefits of Two-Phase Treatment is that this actually reduces the time your middle schooler will have to wear braces, because part of the work was already done when they were younger, creating the foundation needed to complete the work more quickly.
Tampa orthodontist Dr. Gutiérrez and his staff are happy to talk to you and your child about Two-Phase Treatment. If your child is 7 or older, or if your general dentist has suggested that you visit an orthodontist, call us today to make an appointment. We care about your child and want to be sure that their smile is healthy and beautiful for many years.