One question that I'm asked and read online frequently is, “why do orthodontists recommend braces for children who are young enough that they will likely need braces again when they are older?”.
This is a great question!
There are several reasons why you would treat a younger patient: to avoid problems getting worse, reduce tooth wear, and reduce the risk of significant dental injury.
The most urgent early treatment problem is caused by an upper jaw that is too narrow (unilateral crossbite with functional shift) and the lower jaw slides off center when a patient bites down. This shifting actually warps the lower jaw growth, loads the jaw joints unevenly, creates muscle spasms, tooth wear, and potentially causes joint damage. We never want to wait and watch a bite problem that causes growth to become more and more asymmetrical.
The second problem is spacing/crowding. If there is not enough room for teeth to develop and come in normally, you may eventually need to extract permanent teeth to provide a path for others to come in. More teeth are usually better than less, so if it is possible to create space by expanding and growing the jaw then you could save teeth from being extracted.
Third is traumatic function. If the permanent teeth are hitting each other in a destructive manner, you want to move them so they don't fully destroy each other. This traumatic function can occur when only a few permanent teeth have come in, and it may be a long while before the rest of the permanent teeth arrive. During that time, it is possible to ruin the enamel and significantly reduce the life span of the involved teeth. Also, the front teeth come in first, so you're ruining the front teeth!
There are several other reasons you would treat a young patient knowing that they will need another phase of treatment when the rest of the permanent teeth arrive, but most of them fit into those three categories (crossbite, spacing and traumatic function). The absolute best way to know if your child needs early treatment is to contact our office to schedule a complimentary consultation.