Early Orthodontic Treatment

Early Orthodontic Treatment for Children

What is the difference between early orthodontic treatment and later orthodontic treatment at 12 to 14 years of age?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be examined by an orthodontist between the ages of five to seven years old. During the examination, we will evaluate whether your child would benefit from early treatment.

Early treatment, known as Phase One or Interceptive Treatment, typically begins around age eight or nine. Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older. The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain growth problems, such as underbite or a crossbite. Early treatment can also “make room” for permanent teeth and avoid impactions.

How to determine if your child would benefit from early orthodontic treatment

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth: typically, children start losing “baby teeth” between the ages of five and seven years old.
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Your child continues to suck his or her thumb after age five
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth; for example, the top teeth and the bottom teeth may push out the lip or not even be covered by the lip
  • Teeth that don’t come together normally
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes the mouth (crossbites)
  • Crowded front teeth between the age of six to nine years old

What causes orthodontic problems, and how will early treatment benefit my child?

Orthodontic problems such as crowded teeth or too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and “bad bites” can be caused by a variety of circumstances. These circumstances may include genetics, injury, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb sucking.


Richard E. Dunn, DDS, MS (559) 625-3030
101 W. Tulare Ave
Visalia, CA 93277