It’s not unusual for parents to have questions or concerns when it comes to orthodontic care – but many are waiting far too long to ask them or express them.
And this is the number one mistake a parent can make.
Early orthodontic care applies to orthodontic treatments provided to children in the 5 to 12 years old age range. And here’s a tip to remember: while all orthodontists are dentists, all dentists aren’t orthodontists. It’s our recommendation that you trust your orthodontic questions and concerns to those who specialize in it.
Wondering where to start … and why? Read on!
The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) and Hatcher & Frey Orthodontics recommend that all children should receive an orthodontic screening by age 7.
Why? Even though there is still a mix of permanent and baby teeth in the mouth at this age there can often be future orthodontic challenges brewing under the surface that only an orthodontist is able to see. By examining the jaws while they are still early in development this allows your orthodontist to help you avoid unnecessary rounds of treatment and establish the best timing for any future orthodontic needs.
Hatcher & Frey Orthodontics offers complimentary orthodontic screenings as a community service to help provide parents with peace of mind and help them plan ahead. Many times catching developmental and growth issues early allows us to take steps that do not involve major treatments or full treatments should early intervention actually be necessary.
If your child is in the age range of 7 to 12 and still hasn’t seen an orthodontist, now’s the time to book your complimentary early screening. No referral is needed.
Your family dentist or pediatric dentist is focused on evaluating the health of the teeth and gums for things like for cavities and cleanliness. They use tools and x-rays suited for this purpose. But many families make the assumption that their primary care dental provider will also be the one to advise them of orthodontic issues. In reality, they will often ‘refer out’ this type of care as it’s not something they specialize in. However, parents do not have to wait on a referral from their dental provider before seeking orthodontic screenings or consultations.
At Hatcher & Frey Orthodontics, we examine the current and future growth of the jaws and teeth using our expertise, 3D intraoral scans, and specialized orthodontic radiographs to give us a full developmental picture.
So while your dentist is looking at dental health – we’re looking at how things are developing and growing. And no referral is ever needed for consultations or care at our practice.
The decisions we’re making using that information have a huge impact on how a face can mature, develop, and look as a result of the decisions we’re making orthodontically. So we want to shape the growth properly, provide guidance of that growth in the proper way, so that way we get healthy and aesthetic development.
“Phase 1 treatment,” “early intervention,” “interceptive treatment,” and “rescue phase treatment” are all common terms used to indicate early orthodontic treatment in a child, prior to 10-12 years of age. While early intervention is not often needed, it does occur – and the best way to catch issues that need be treated are through an early orthodontic screening. Hatcher & Frey Orthodontics offers these screenings at no charge or impact to your insurance.
Phase 1 treatment is simply a limited treatment to rescue abnormal growth and development patterns that cannot be fixed later. So, in layman’s terms, fixing things that would result in damage if left alone at an early age – even if they don’t have all the adult teeth are in or something that would need an early correction. When all of the adult teeth are in and we’re not in the later phases of jaw growth, the jaws are actually growing differently than in younger children – and at that time there are things that simply can’t be fixed in the same manner.
The goals of Phase 1 treatment are to facilitate or restore normal growth and development of the teeth and jaws so that all the teeth can get into the mouth safely and without any major deficiencies or problems that cannot be adequately corrected later.
But an early intervention doesn’t necessarily mean a family has to spend more money in the long run. Phase 1 treatment can actually be cost effective for the family, as they’re not having to invest in more invasive, or lengthy, procedures caused by improper development of the jaws.
In the right hands, teeth don’t know the difference between braces or Invisalign. It’s important to have an orthodontist who’s experienced treating younger smiles with Invisalign, as well as being incredibly experienced with Invisalign and clear aligner therapy in general.
Hatcher & Frey Orthodontics is the most experience Invisalign clear aligners provider not only in the region, but one of the Top 1% providers in the country – and offers a full suite of clear aligner options, including Invisalign First, designed specifically for younger smiles.
We believe in taking a gentle approach where families can choose between either Invisalign clear aligners or braces. By catching problems early we are able to avoid using more aggressive appliances like expanders, which can be a lot for a child to handle.
Studies show that younger children are incredibly compliant with clear aligners and this approach tends to be very compatible with day to day activities.
There are similar levels of responsibility between braces and invisalign, but for children wearing braces they are not often able to clean between their back teeth on their own with the braces in place and parents end up needing to do the flossing for them.
When using Invisalign First clear aligners, there’s nothing in the way – so it’s gentle, not scary, and easier for them to maintain on their own with independence.
“How much does orthodontic treatment cost?”
Let’s be honest, the cost question is never one size fits all – as it’s all dependent on the overall treatment complexity, insurance coverage and benefits, as well as courtesies the family may qualify to receive. This is just another reason we recommend our free early orthodontic screenings – it will give every parent the answers to their most pressing questions, especially financial.
Unexpected treatments will typically catch parents off guard – especially if they weren’t expecting to need to invest in orthodontic care until further down the road.
At Hatcher & Frey Orthodontics, we make every effort to remove the financial obstacles to a healthy smile – by customizing your financial plan to fit your budget and by maximizing your insurance benefits. We accept most insurances, and extend courtesies to military, first responders, educator and professional partner families.
It is common for a child to have a second phase of treatment if they need to have Phase 1 treatment. It’s common because all of the adult teeth are not in and the jaws are not done growing – things are going to change a lot later on during growth spurts and puberty.
The normal turnover of teeth, or loss of teeth, due to the age group of those in Phase 1 treatment is to be something we anticipate and is to be expected – and should in no way be the deterrent for seeking early screenings that reveal current and future answers.
That said, correcting issues during Phase 1 often means less time (and money) spent down the road in overall orthodontic treatment.
The doctors at Hatcher & Frey Orthodontics may recommend Phase 1 treatment if your child is experiencing the following issues: a crossbite or teeth that are impacted and not growing properly. Other issues include sleep apnea as diagnosed by a sleep physician, and any habits (such as extended thumb sucking) that are damaging the teeth or gums.
In certain cases, “treatment” might not mean using appliances, but simply guidance from our doctors, Dr. Bill Hatcher or Dr. Scott Frey. This could include behavioral modifications that we can suggest and some at-home therapies to help the jaws grow better and teeth develop better so we can avoid bigger problems in the future.
The best place to start to see if your child could have an issue brewing under the surface is to book your free early screening with Hatcher & Frey Orthodontics. At the screening, your child will receive an oral exam, orthodontic x-rays, and a 1:1 consultation with our team.
Serving the market since 1998, Hatcher & Frey Orthodontics has three convenient locations throughout the Southside of Hampton Roads – in Western Branch (Taylor Road in Chesapeake), Great Bridge (Cedar Road in Chesapeake) and Norfolk (Premium Outlets Blvd.)