It sounds logical: the sooner you empower your child with a beautiful smile, the longer they can enjoy it. On some occasions it may not be as simple as that, but in most cases early treatment is beneficial for children.

Smiles of all ages can benefit from orthodontic treatment, from improving the aesthetics to your smile to the prevention of gum disease and more. As a parent, you might be wondering what the best time is for your kid to start treatment and tackle any potential orthodontic problems early on. We’re here to help, so read on to find out all the ins and outs on orthodontic treatment for younger patients.

What is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist doctor who works on the mouth, jaws, teeth, and the overall facial structure. They diagnose and correct conditions such as overbites, occlusions, misaligned teeth, overcrowded jaws, among others.

Dentists vs orthodontists

Orthodontists should not be confused with dentists. While they all work in oral health, general dentists help with more universal treatments, while orthodontists specialise in straightening teeth – which includes misalignment and jaw growth. In a sense, all orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists.

As a specialty dentist, an orthodontist has to complete 3 more years of dental school and training in orthodontics to be licensed following the Australian society of orthodontists. That is in addition to the normal 5 years of dentist education.

What is an Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment, which is also known as interceptive treatment, is the dental and oral treatment of children from as young as 7 years old. If your child is experiencing severe dental issues beyond just crooked front teeth, a children orthodontist can help begin correcting the problem whilst all the permanent teeth erupt.

So, while a lot of people think you should wait until all of your child’s adult teeth have come in before scheduling an appointment with your orthodontist – that doesn’t ring true in our experience. We recommend bringing your child in for the first time around the age of 8 or 9. While your child might be missing teeth or still has some baby teeth, their permanent molars and incisors will be in, which gives orthodontists a good idea of treatment needs. Especially with the power of X-rays to reveal hidden teeth, the trained eye should be able to determine the child’s growth and when is best to begin treatment.

How to know if my child needs Early Orthodontic Treatment?

It’s easy for the general public to see a bad bites when the child’s permanent teeth have come up. However, there are other indicators parents should keep in mind as they can pinpoint the need to see an orthodontist.

If you notice the following with your kids at an early age, they might benefit from orthodontic treatment for children:

  • Early, late or irregular loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty or discomfort in chewing or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Protruding teeth
  • Thumb sucking beyond the age of 5
  • Under- or overbite
  • Crowded, crooked or misplaced teeth
  • Jaw and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face
  • Problems talking.
  • There are large gaps.
  • There is pain in the jaws.

The Benefits of Early Orthodontic Evaluation

When a child is eight-years-old, their jaws are still developing so orthodontic treatment won’t start right away. However, an orthodontist can help spot even slight problems with jaw growth and the way the permanent teeth are coming in. Even if it looks like your child has straight teeth, there could still be irregularities with their teeth or jaw. Most of the time, we’ll just monitor your child’s development when they come in at a young age and let you know when we think it’s time to start treatment.


See an orthodontist if your child has any habits that could potentially cause unwanted tooth movements or interfere with jaw formation. Sucking their thumb, for example, can lead to front teeth sticking out or an open bite. Kicking these habits can reduce treatment time, or prevent it altogether!

Early intervention

Benefits of orthodontics go beyond alignment, as braces or other orthodontics can also improve the overall oral health; no matter if you’re a child or if we’re talking about teens or adults. A bad bite is more difficult to keep teeth clean, with certain tooth or teeth being difficult to access when brushing and flossing. If not every tooth is receiving the same level of attention and care, this can lead to tooth decay or gingivitis. The earlier we treat the problem, the less extensive treatment will be in later life.

Orthodontic treatment will also help create space for the permanent teeth to erupt properly and decrease the likelihood your child needing corrective jaw surgery down the road. Aesthetically, braces and other orthodontics treatments will improve the appearance of the treated smile by correcting facial asymmetries throughout their life.

Maximise treatment efficiency.

By getting your child to see an orthodontist before all the adult teeth have erupted, you and the orthodontist can work together to create a comprehensive treatment plan that may help prevent or reduce alignment problems that can occur once the adult teeth emerge – even before jumping into braces or alternative orthodontics. Orthodontic treatment for children might not even mean you begin treatment straightaway. Orthodontists can predict orthodontic problems before they even form, giving you more options to decide how and when your child can undergo orthodontic treatment. That means your child can have their treatment more effectively, which could be a lot faster and a lot more budget-friendly.

Possible Orthodontic Treatments

Orthodontic treatment for children can slightly vary from orthodontic treatment you’d get at an older age. For example, expansion appliances are designed to increase the width of the upper jaw, improving the bite and providing more room for the developing teeth. Expanders are most beneficial in younger patients and can be either fixed or removable.

Additionally, we can fit both braces and Invisalign for your child depending on their needs. Invisalign is a popular option amongst those that want to have a more discreet, subtle treatment, regardless of age. However, Invisalign is specifically design to address the unique needs of growing children and uses sets of clear aligner treatment on a mix of baby and permanent teeth.

Why is Smile Team the solution for you?

Whether you can already see your child developing orthodontic problems that could benefit from orthodontic treatment for children, or want to know if your child would benefit from orthodontic treatments such as braces – we’re here to help.

We would always recommend seeing an orthodontist when it comes to aligning a beautiful smile. Dentist are great for your child to stay on top of their dental health, but creating a dream smile for years to come is the expertise of orthodontists like us.

At Smile Team, we’re dedicated to finding a solution that works for you and your child. Not only when it comes to the most suitable treatment plan that suits your or your child’s lifestyle, but also with flexible payment options and excellent service. Get started today with a free consultation.