For Young Kids, Orthodontics Isn’t Just About A Pretty Smile


All parents want their children to feel confident in their smile, but that’s not the only reason to investigate orthodontics at an early age. We, at McAllen Orthodontic Group, have a mission to to focus on children 7 years old and up as per the American Association off Orthodontics (AAO) guidelines even though the average age of orthodontic treatment is about 12 years old. Why so early, you ask?

Early Orthodontic treatment has so many benefits. An orthodontic consult at an early age can catch future issues and adjust for them before they become big problems. Some of these issues include:

Airway Obstruction: well developed airways allow normal breathing through the nose when the mouth is closed. While this may sound trivial, nasal breathing is important because we have learned that breathing through your nose is actually vital to good health. Airway obstruction has been linked to developmental delays, sleep disorders, behavioral disturbances, and can later lead to hypertension, heart disease, stroke and even premature death. These sound scary but the treatment is easy when we are able to catch it early on!

Crossbites: by age 7, most children’s incisors and permanent molars have come in. The trained eye of an orthodontist like Dr. Gerling or Dr. Ryan can see early on if crowding or crossbites will be an issue going forward. Uncorrected crossbites can cause Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) issues and possibly asymmetric growth of the jaws. Therefore, it is very important to identify and correct crossbites as soon as possible. Also, the earlier treatment begins, the easier correction will be because your child’s jaw is less developed at this early age. That means Dr. Gerling and Dr. Ryan can guide your child’s jaw growth along the right path rather than working to reverse issues once they’re in their teens.

Overcrowding: Don’t wait! In the past, orthodontists would say wait until age 11 or 12 to treat a crowding problem, but the problem isn’t going to get any better by waiting. Early treatment has been proven to correct a narrow arch and create space for your child’s permanent teeth as well as for the tongue so it may function correctly when swallowing. Plus, early treatment can avoid the need for future tooth extraction or jaw surgery.

The benefits to Early Orthodontic treatment are clear:

Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, correct any habits that can cause bad bite later on, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment. Speaking of…

Two Phase Treatment. Phase 1 works with your young child to make space for their permanent teeth. Phase 2 begins once those permanent teeth have arrived. Oftentimes, children who undergo Phase 1 treatment have a much shorter Phase 2. This makes life easier for both them and you as their schedules get busier and busier in their teen years.

Not all 7 year olds will need early treatment. However, if they need early treatment and if it is caught early by a trained orthodontist, it could make a big difference in the outcomes of treatment. By taking advantage of growth, breathing can be improved, crossbites corrected, and/or extractions can be avoided.

Knowing the importance of early orthodontics is only part of the battle. The next question is, who do you talk to about this? At McAllen Orthodontic Group, Dr. Gerling and Dr. Ryan have years of experience dealing with early treatment and will focus on your child’s individual needs to discuss if early treatment is needed.

We’re a service focused practice that aims to make you and your children as comfortable as possible during the treatment process. Take it from Dr. Ryan – his braces were done here when he was a kid and he loved it so much that he was inspired by Dr. Gerling to become an orthodontist himself!

Contact us today for a free consultation! We offer flexible financing solutions with a credit management system and will help your child smile with confidence! Click below to schedule an appointment.