There was a time when the largest segment of orthodontic patients were teenagers with braces. While teens still make up a large percentage of everyone who wears braces, there are now significant percentages of orthodontic patients both below the teen years as well as beyond. In some cases, far beyond, as more and more adults with braces are seen these days.
When Should I Take My Child for an Orthodontic Evaluation?
According to the AAO recommendation, the optimal age for a child’s initial orthodontic visit is no later than seven years of age. By this age, even if they don’t have all their permanent teeth yet, the experienced orthodontist is usually able to detect and predict the growth pattern.
The initial visit may determine that everything is fine, your child’s bite is in alignment and nothing needs to be done. Or they could detect a problem in the making and may recommend close monitoring as your child grows, and developing a treatment plan later on down the road. They could also uncover an issue that can be more easily corrected if treated early with interceptive treatment.
What are the Benefits of Taking My Child to the Orthodontist at an Early Age?
If it’s determined that your child has a problem, treating it earlier rather than later can prevent even more serious issues from developing. Sometimes, results can be achieved with early treatment that simply wouldn’t be possible if treatment was delayed, and attempted after the development of the face and jaws was finished.
With early treatment, the orthodontist has the opportunity to achieve one or more of the following benefits:
- Guiding the growth of the jawline
- Correcting or improving harmful or poor oral habits
- Correcting or improving the lips and how they meet
- Guiding permanent teeth more easily into ideal positions in the mouth
- Improving overall appearance
- Lowering the trauma risk for protruding front teeth
Early evaluation at age 7 by a qualified orthodontist gives your child the very best chance to have a beautiful, healthy smile for the rest of his or her life.
Signs You Should Get an Early Orthodontic Evaluation for Your Child
There are some fairly obvious signs you can look for that will indicate you should probably go ahead and set up an appointment for an orthodontic evaluation, sooner rather than later. Some of the signs include:
- Teeth that are clearly misaligned and don’t meet correctly
- Thumb sucking
- Always breathing through the mouth
- Losing baby teeth too early, too late or at random and irregular times
- Difficulty eating, biting or chewing
- Teeth that are obviously too crowded, out of place or blocking other teeth
- Frequent biting of the cheek or even the roof of the mouth
- Teeth and jaws that are disproportionate to the rest of the child’s face
- Jaws that clearly shift, audibly make noises, or are visibly recessed or protruding
- Front teeth stick out between lips
If you have any concerns about the oral health of your child, contact us today and we’ll be glad to set up a consultation for you with the orthodontist, who will address all your questions and concerns.