top of page

Preventive Orthodontics

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

We’re often asked about the difference between regular orthodontic treatments and early or preventative orthodontics.

Why would a child need early treatment and how could it benefit your little one in the long-run?

According to the Australian Dental Association, children should start visiting the dentist when a baby’s tooth becomes visible or they reach 12 months old. That may sound early, but prevention is always better than cure when it comes to your child’s oral health. The recommendation for visiting an orthodontist is around 7 years old. The ideal age to start orthodontic treatment will depend on what issues – if any – your child presents with.

The idea of an initial visit is for ‘screening’ – it is most likely early orthodontic treatment will not be needed – but in the cases that it is – the benefits can be significant. The idea of early treatment is to correct the growth of your child’s jaw and some bite problems. Early treatment can assist with gaining enough room for permanent teeth to properly come through, minimising the chances of extractions being required later on.

Orthodontic Problems and the Benefits of Early Prevention

Orthodontic issues such as too much space between the teeth, over-crowding, jaw growth issues, and bad bites can all be inherited or result from an injury to the mouth. Thumb-sucking and early or late loss of baby teeth also contribute to orthodontic problems.

Children mostly lose their baby teeth by the age of 13. Once they reach the end of their teens, the jaw bones harden and stop growing. Adult orthodontic procedures take more time and are more likely to involve oral surgery and tooth extractions.

Receiving early preventative orthodontics as a child can help make the overall treatment process easier.

Preventative orthodontics allows:

  • Jaw growth and development to be monitored

  • Permanent teeth to be guided into their correct position and avoid crowding or spacing problems

  • Front teeth to be protected from the risk of trauma

  • Improved oral hygiene habits

  • Reduce the time and complexity of second phase, or adult, treatment

  • Your child to avoid self-esteem issues

How to Tell If a Child Needs Preventative Orthodontic Treatment

The following are tell-tale signs that your child may require early treatment:

  • Difficulty biting or chewing

  • Speech impediments

  • Mouth breathing

  • Late or early loss of baby teeth

  • Continuing to suck the thumb after the age of 5

  • Teeth that fail to come together

  • Protruding teeth

  • The jaw shifts when your child opens or closes their mouth

  • Crowded front teeth

What to Expect During Early Treatment

Preventative orthodontics should serve as a pattern for total health. Early prevention results in long-term oral health and reduced dental costs in the long-run. It encourages fresh breath, a bright smile and an overall boost of confidence.

Here’s what you can expect when you bring your child in for preventative care.

Clinical Examination

The exam includes examination and assessment of the growing face, teeth and jaws.

Regular dentist check ups are still needed:

Your regular family dentist will arrange:

  • Scaling and polishing to remove tartar and stains

  • Instructions for you and your family on the best way to reduce plaque and cavity-causing bacteria

  • Fluoride treatments which works to strengthen the enamel on the surface of the teeth.

You and your child will learn the proper methods of flossing and brushing teeth and using any necessary dental products.

Digital X-Rays

Both your dentist and orthodontist may need digital x-rays to complement your child’s exam. Without the x-rays, certain conditions may well be missed.

Digital x-rays are able to detect a lot more than just cavities. For instance, your orthodontist may take a closer look at erupting teeth, evaluate an injury, diagnose bone disease of plan preventative orthodontic treatment.

Preventative Orthodontics FAQ

Does My Child Need Preventative Treatment?

Your child may benefit from preventative care if he or she has inadequate jaw space, malocclusions (incorrect bite), missing primary teeth or teeth erupting in the wrong places. If you think your child might need early care or intervention, schedule a consultation with a specialist orthodontist.

What Should We Expect During Preventative Treatment?

Treatment (if needed) will vary from one child to the next. Your orthodontist may fix a preventative appliance to your child’s mouth, which will require more than one visit to monitor progress. If the appliance is removable, such as a plate, you’ll receive instructions on how and when your child should wear his or her device.

Will I Have to Follow Special Instructions During My Child’s Preventative Treatment?

Yes, you will. Besides ensuring that your child’s orthodontic appliance is worn correctly, you must also prevent him or her from consuming foods that may damage the appliance. If the appliance is removable, you’ll need to clean it often and store it appropriately.

It’s Never Too Early for an Orthodontic check-up

If your child is over the age of 7, it may be worthwhile to contact the orthodontist and book a simple exam and check which may prevent significant and costly issues in the future. You are always welcome to get in touch earlier than this too if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s oral health and development.

To learn more, contact Fine Orthodontics today.


Learn more about Sydney orthodontics:



Specialist Orthodontist Input by Dr Martin Fine BDS, MSc, MSc

Dr Martin Fine

Dr Martin Fine

Specialist Orthodontist Dr Martin Fine, BDS, MSc (Orthodontics), is based in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. With over 30 years' experience in private practice, Dr Fine has expertise working with a wide variety of orthodontic appliances, including braces and Invisalign. He has presented at orthodontic conferences globally, and has taught postgraduate orthodontic students at the University of Sydney. Dr Fine is a member of both the AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) and the ASO (Australian Society of Orthodontists), and is a former president of the Alpha-Omega Dental Society's Sydney Chapter.  In the past, Dr Fine's research has been featured in the Angle Orthodontist journal. Dr Fine is committed to providing outstanding patient care using the latest and most effective techniques. Most recently, Dr Fine has developed and introduced the innovative FineLine clear aligner system, which has been specifically developed to meet the needs of patients at Fine Orthodontics.

Written by Danielle Long

Danielle Long

Danielle Long.png

Danielle Long has been assisting in the creation of beautiful smiles at Fine Orthodontics for over 15 years. Holding graduate qualifications in English and Education (BA/BEd UNSW), Dani brings a unique blend of knowledge to her role. She has worked in many different areas of the practice, having served as both Clinical Assistant and Treatment Coordinator over the years. Continually fascinated by the art and science behind orthodontics, Dani is always keen to share her knowledge in order to enhance patient understanding and experience. Dani focuses on facilitating exceptional patient communication and delivering in-depth orthodontic treatment information. She strives to ensure that every individual embarking on their orthodontic journey with Fine Orthodontics feels informed and supported.

bottom of page