Early Treatment

Why your child should see an orthodontist, and how early treatment can prevent serious future issues

Orthodontics for children

Preventative care starts early

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit an orthodontist for the first time by age 7. This visit ensures that no major problems exist with the development of the permanent teeth and the growth of the jaws.

In some instances, Dr. McComb may recommend early treatment (or Phase One treatment) to promote healthy growth and development of your child’s teeth and jaws. With early intervention, orthodontics can create space for the permanent teeth to develop in a better position, or for the upper and lower jaws to grow more favorably.

The goals of early treatment include the prevention of serious crowding of the permanent teeth, correction of asymmetrical jaw growth and improvement in your child’s facial profile.

Read about why your child should see an orthodontist vs a dentist here.

Children’s teeth are still growing

Children’s teeth and jaws are still growing and developing at this stage, so if major problems exist, we have a better opportunity to correct the problem before growth is complete

Early treatment reduces the complexity of the second phase of treatment, and may even allow your child to avoid tooth extraction or surgical procedures in the future.

Following early treatment (which usually lasts about one year), your child will be closely monitored as their permanent teeth continue to develop. Once all permanent teeth are in the mouth, the second and final phase of treatment, which includes full braces, Invisalign, or Harmony, will begin.

Read Everything You Need to Know About Phase 1 Treatment here.

Determining factors

Some indications your child may be a candidate for early orthodontic treatment include:


  • Early loss of primary (baby) teeth
  • Severely crowded teeth
  • Impacted permanent teeth
  • Finger sucking or other habits
  • Speech difficulty
  • Protruding (“buck”) teeth
  • Asymmetrical face
  • Jaws that are too far forward or backward
    (Overbite and Underbite)
  • Irregular facial profile

When to come in

Because some of these problems may not be obvious to parents, we recommend that all come in before the age of 7

In many instances, Dr. McComb will perform your child’s initial orthodontic consultation and recommend that no treatment is necessary until all permanent teeth are in the mouth.  In such cases, we will see your child every 6 months to one year to monitor their development and begin treatment only when the time is right.  These growth and development visits are always complementary.