Harwell & Cook Orthodontics

Early Orthodontic Treatment

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Early orthodontic treatment for children can have a positive lifelong impact on your child’s oral health, dental development, and smile.

Early orthodontic treatment for children can have a positive lifelong impact on your child’s oral health, dental development, and smile—and for each child, there is an ideal time to begin. When very young children receive orthodontic treatment, it is sometimes called interceptive orthodontics. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends for a child’s first appointment with an orthodontist should be at age 7. While we love to treat patients of all ages at our practice, because the jaws of young children are still growing, it can be easier to correct orthodontic issues in younger patients. Another benefit of early treatment is that we can guide the permanent teeth into their proper positions as they develop, which decreases the chance of additional treatments being required later, such as extractions. Sometimes, we will decide that a child as young as 6 or 7 can begin orthodontic treatment, but we won’t always recommend treatment at this age. While age 7 is often the ideal time to get an orthodontic exam, if you have missed this window of opportunity, that’s ok! We successfully treat children and adults of all ages so that they can experience their very best lifelong smile.

Parents, for more information about orthodontic treatment for your kids, check out our Braces FAQ.

When you and your child meet with Dr. Anthony or Dr. Cook for a consultation at any of our five convenient Panhandle locations, you will receive a recommendation for the type of orthodontic treatment that is best for your child and the ideal timeline for treatment. If waiting for treatment is recommended, we’ll see your child once or twice a year to monitor their growth and assess their needs. We offer these important growth and guidance appointments free of charge.

Some of the signs that your child may be a candidate for early orthodontic treatment include

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (children typically lose their first baby tooth around age 5 and have all their permanent teeth by age 13)
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Continued thumb-sucking after age 5
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth
  • Malocclusion (crossbite, overbite, underbite)
  • Crowded front teeth as early as age 7 or 8

If you have concerns about your child’s dental development, or if your child is showing one or more of the above signs, we encourage you to contact any of our offices schedule a consultation for your child with our trusted doctors. We look forward to guiding you through the process of your child’s orthodontic care.

The following is an explanation of how we generally approach treatment for children:


One-phase treatment usually begins between the ages of 10 and 15. At this age, because many of their peers are undergoing orthodontic treatment, patients are often more willing to wear braces along with their peers. Because children of this age are developing rapidly, orthodontists can utilize this growth to correct common orthodontic issues such as malocclusions, crowded teeth, spaces between the teeth, bite problems, and more. After one-phase treatment is complete, the child has finished their braces journey.


Two-phase orthodontic treatment consists of two separate times when a child receives orthodontic treatment. This treatment plan is recommended when younger children between the ages of 7 and 10 are showing signs of orthodontic issues at an early age, such as protruding teeth, speech impediments, thumb-sucking, impacted teeth, crowded or missing teeth, and difficulty chewing. During the first phase of this two-part treatment plan, braces or other appliances, such as a palatal expander, may be used to correct underbites, crossbites, or other problems. The goal of this first phase is to create an optimal environment for your child’s permanent teeth as they emerge.

There is a resting period after the first phase of treatment when the orthodontist monitors your child’s developing growth and tooth eruption to determine when the second phase shall begin. The second phase of this two-phase treatment plan consists of additional treatment with braces if recommended for your child and begins once all the permanent teeth have erupted. The purpose of this phase is to move the permanent teeth into their final positions. If two-phase treatment is recommended but not completed, there is a risk of creating an unhealthy environment for the growth and development of the child’s permanent teeth, gums, jaws, and facial structure. The team at Harwell & Cook Orthodontics will guide you and your child along the way during these phases of treatment.


Our team of orthodontists and experienced staff have many years of experience assessing and addressing the orthodontic needs of children. We encourage you to contact any of our five practice locations to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Anthony or Dr. Cook so that we can determine if your child is ready to begin his/her orthodontic treatment at our practice. As always, we are available to answer any questions you may have—no question is too small! Thank you for your trust and the opportunity to care for you and your family.