Seeing an orthodontist is important for maintaining good oral health. However, many parents aren’t sure when their child should have their first visit. To help clear up this confusion, here is what you need to know.
What Age Should A Child See An Orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that children have a check-up with an orthodontist if their family dentist detects any orthodontic problems. However, they also suggest that children should see an orthodontist by no later than age seven. This is because some orthodontic problems can be difficult for general dentists to identify before they become more obvious. An orthodontist will be able to detect any problems before they become major and give you an idea of the treatment options available.
Early detection and treatment can be especially beneficial and the teeth and jaw are still forming, meaning treatment is much easier and faster than it would be on a fully developed adult. It can also help prevent problems from getting worse later in life, which may require more extensive work.
How Do I Know If My Child Needs Orthodontic Treatment?
If your child is under the age of seven, they should still visit an orthodontist if you notice any of the following problems.
- Early, late, or abnormal loss of baby teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Difficulty chewing and biting
- Crowded or misaligned teeth
- Popping jaws, or jaws that are recessed or protruding
- Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
- Thumb sucking
- Disproportioned jaws and/or teeth
These can all be signs that your child needs orthodontic treatment, and they should see an orthodontist as soon as possible so that treatment can be planned for.
When Can My Child Start Treatment?
Although a child can see an orthodontist by age seven or before, your orthodontist may prolong treatment until a majority of the adult teeth have come in. Usually, this occurs between the ages of eight and 14. However, some orthodontists will recommend interceptive treatment, which involves applying dental appliances — not necessarily braces — when a majority of baby teeth are present. After adult teeth have come in, the second phase of treatment can be started and will usually be shorter due to the early treatment.
If your child is seven years old, or if you have noticed any of these problems, consider scheduling them for a visit to your orthodontist. Your family dentist may also be able to recommend an orthodontist if you don’t already have one. By getting treatment early, you can help set your child up for a healthier mouth and a healthier smile in the future.