Orthodontic treatment is extremely important for kids, but many parents may not know the best time to begin. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children see an orthodontist by age seven.
This may seem really early and too young, but it’s actually best to visit an orthodontist as early as possible so they can get a head start on their orthodontic treatment before any existing issues get worse.
Why Age Seven?
Parents may be wary of orthodontic treatment for their children at age seven because they still have some of their baby teeth, but this is actually helpful for orthodontists to plan and prepare for whatever treatment they might need. Whether it’s braces, Invisalign, an expander, or a retainer, seeing your child earlier will ensure your orthodontist can understand where the adult teeth will come in and how they will sit once all of the baby teeth fall out.
There are many different types of early treatment that your child could need once they see an orthodontist. If their mouth is too small for their incoming adult teeth, for instance, they could use a palatal expander. This device is used to widen the upper jaw so that the top and bottom teeth can fit together better.
Your orthodontist might also recommend braces on just the top or bottom row of teeth. This can help correct issues with specific teeth or help make room for adult teeth. It’s good to get this kind of treatment earlier in your child’s life to prepare them for a full set of braces and to make sure they do not have issues with their adult teeth coming in.
Possible Signs of Orthodontic Trouble
If you’re not sure if your child needs braces or other early orthodontic treatment, you can check for the following signs:
- Irregular loss of baby teeth (either premature or delayed)
- Difficulty eating and chewing
- Protruding teeth
- Crooked teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Irregular teeth spacing
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb sucking
- Upper and lower teeth do not meet when they bite down
- Grinding or clenching teeth
- Frequently biting cheek or roof of mouth
These symptoms do not necessarily mean your child will need braces, but it is best to see an orthodontist for a check-up to make sure their teeth, bite, and jaw alignment are all right.
What to Expect at the First Visit
When your child first goes to the orthodontist, they will have a thorough examination. Your child may have photographs and x-rays taken to begin their orthodontic record. Your orthodontist will keep track of any issues or potential issues they see and let you know what the best course of action would be to correct them.
Your child’s first appointment is a great time for you to ask any questions you might have about their treatment and what the orthodontist thinks is needed. You will also be able to give the doctor any medical or personal history about your child that could help determine the best course of treatment.
Having your child visit the orthodontist early helps them get comfortable with the doctor and the staff. It’s Dr. Milnor’s goal to make sure her patients as comfortable as possible.