At Ashcraft Orthodontics Little Rock, we specialize in providing comprehensive orthodontic care for patients in all stages of life. However, the best time to begin treatment is often earlier on during the childhood stages. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children undergo an orthodontic evaluation by the time they turn age seven. Treating orthodontic issues earlier rather than later in your child’s life can help reduce the chance of oral conditions and minimize the treatment needed to restore dental problems in the future.
When children are in the early stages of jaw and tooth development, it is easier to manipulate and guide the proper alignment of the jawbones and teeth. Waiting until later may cause your child to miss the window of opportunity to treat certain conditions that may be beyond repair as an adult. If your child has not yet had their initial orthodontic consultation, we encourage you to schedule a visit with Dr. Michael Ashcraft at our Little Rock, AR practice to determine treatment timing and whether orthodontic care is needed.
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Treatment for most common orthodontic conditions often begins between the ages of 9 – 14 or when the baby teeth have all been lost and adult teeth have fully erupted in the mouth. However, in some cases, beginning orthodontic care before this age can be more beneficial. Dr. Ashcraft may recommend early intervention treatments at this point or simply monitor your child’s growth and development until they are ready for treatment to begin.
At around age six, the first permanent molars start the eruption process. We use the positioning of the first molars as oral markers to help assess occlusal classification, jaw and facial profile, and alignment concerns. This may also give Dr. Ashcraft an idea of whether the rest of the permanent teeth will have adequate spacing to grow into.
Your child may be a candidate for early orthodontic intervention if they have oral issues, like a crossbite or underbite. These types of malocclusions describe how the upper and lower teeth fit together and can impact your child’s eating and speaking abilities. Protruding teeth is another concern that often leaves younger patients feeling self-conscious and increases the risk of chips and breaks to the front teeth. Parafunctional habits, like mouth breathing and thumb-sucking during childhood, can result in a condition called openbite, causing abnormal growth of the upper and lower jaws that prevent the front teeth from biting together.
Treating these types of issues during the developmental stages and before the jawbones fully form can minimize the need for more extensive treatments, such as jaw surgery, and give your child a chance to enjoy a comfortable, healthy smile for many years to come.
What to Expect
To learn if your child can benefit from early orthodontic care, our team will take low-radiation digital x-rays and impressions of your child’s teeth and jaw. Dr. Ashcraft will also physically examine your child’s mouth, jaw joints, and facial profile to identify key indicators that early treatment may be a good idea. Each individual patient’s treatment is customized to meet their needs.
Early phase orthodontics may include appliances, like palatal expanders and space maintainers, to help stretch the bones to facilitate normal eruption and guide unerupted teeth into their ideal position within the jaw. If baby teeth are preventing adult teeth from erupting, tooth extractions may be necessary to create adequate space. For some patients, headgear may be required while others may go right into wearing traditional braces. If your child is not yet ready for treatment, Dr. Ashcraft may recommend annual visits to monitor for treatment timing.
Depending on your child’s treatment, they may need to return to our office on a monthly basis for adjustments to their appliances and continued care. Our highly trained team will show you and your child the best techniques to use for cleaning their teeth and gums while undergoing orthodontic care. Brushing and flossing can be challenging when wearing braces, even for adults. To help your child maintain a healthy smile during treatment, we encourage you to assist them in their home care efforts. Additional tools and techniques may be recommended to help control plaque buildup around brackets, wires, and other hardware.
Ashcraft Orthodontics is proud to work with a number of dental insurance plans and will file your claims on your behalf. Before beginning your child’s treatment, we will contact your provider and review your child’s list of benefits. Any out-of-pocket expenses will be presented to you at the start of care. If you do not have insurance or have personal costs to cover, we offer convenient payment options, including in-office and third-party financing, to help make your family’s orthodontic care fit within your budget.
Take Action Early
Give your little ones the treatment they need now for a bright, healthy smile that will serve well into the future. Dr. Ashcraft offers early orthodontic care to Little Rock, AR patients to treat dental problems using the most efficient approach and help prevent the need for complex care down the road. To schedule your child’s initial orthodontic consultation, get in touch with our team at Ashcraft Orthodontics Little Rock today.