While there is no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends visiting an orthodontist around age 7. By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and permanent teeth, making it easier for Dr. Blue to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery.
Why is it important to get your children into an orthodontist early? Early treatment allows Dr. Blue to:
● Correct and guide the growth of your child’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
● Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
● Create more space for crowded teeth
● Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
● Correct thumb sucking and help improve minor speech problems
Does this mean my 7-year-old will need braces? No. In fact, most treatment plans start between ages 9 and 16. Getting a head start on orthodontic treatment doesn’t mean braces right away, it’s just a way for Dr. Blue to see how your child’s face, jaws, and mouth are developing and to see if they will need orthodontic treatment when they’re older. A consultation early may help you plan for future treatment.
For parents, it’s not always easy to know if your child may need orthodontic treatment. Here are a few things to look for that may mean your child needs to see an orthodontist:
● Early or late loss of baby teeth
● A hard time chewing or biting food
● Mouth breathing
● Finger or thumb sucking
● Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
● Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
● Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
● Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
● Crowded front teeth around age 7 or 8
Your first orthodontist visit
Whether it is a doctor visit, a trip to the dentist, or in this case, your first orthodontic consultation, there might be apprehension and fear leading up to the visit. If you notice your child gets nervous about visiting a new office, you can help put their mind at ease by letting them know what they can expect.
The first step will be a thorough examination of their teeth, mouth, and jaw. Next, Dr. Blue might ask your child to open their mouth, bite down, or ask questions around chewing and swallowing. Finally, they might have X-rays, or photos taken of their mouth and face to be able to see how the teeth are positioned and whether permanent teeth still need to come in. The final step might be to make a mold / impression of your child’s teeth. This is done by pressing a gooey tray on your child’s top and bottom teeth. Dr. Blue may also choose to do a digital scan of your child’s teeth which will show you and your child a simulation of what’s possible with orthodontic treatment. This will help Dr. Blue decide what, if any, treatment might be needed now or in the future.
Are there situations where my child might need braces early?
Sometimes, like in the case of accidents or injury, your child might need braces early. When this happens, this could be a temporary situation to help the mouth or teeth heal and then they will be removed to let the mouth and jaw continue developing and let their permanent teeth come in. Or in other cases, if enough permanent teeth came in, they might have braces put on to correct the issue early versus later in their teenage years.
No matter what your situation is, Dr. Blue will help answer any questions and will let you know what your child might need now or in the future. Remember, early treatment now will give your child a healthy, beautiful smile for the future.