Mothers and fathers are approaching us daily about their children’s crowded teeth, protruding teeth and spaces between teeth. Today’s parents do not accept the answers given by some dentists and orthodontists when observing that their son or daughter has a problem. “No treatment is indicated at this time, the patient is too young, the malocclusion will be observed and treated when the permanent teeth erupt in.” For practitioners, trained with a preventive philosophy, this approach seems completely illogical when statistics have proven that malocclusions when left untreated worsen over time. The term “supervised neglect” seems very appropriate.

One of the main reasons why we should treat children during the mixed dentition stage of development is that there is such a high incidence of malocclusion in children. This was quite evident from the Burlington Growth Study, Toronto, Canada, where it was revealed that 75% of children, age 12, have some form of malocclusion.

Since 90% of the face is developed by age 12, practitioners must treat early if they want to guide and, in fact, modify the growth of younger patients. In our office we emphasize a functional-orthopedic philosophy and favor a two-phase orthodontic treatment. We recommend seeing children for an initial evaluation between age 6 and 10.

The next post will discuss the various stages of treatment and the rational for treating at an early age. I am really excited by the ability to intervene earlier allowing for the reduced chance of problems later in life. Our goal is better function and a better smile.

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