What age is recommended for children to visit an orthodontist for the first time?
While there is no exact age for when orthodontic treatment should begin for every child, there is an ideal time for every child to visit an orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic consultation at the age of seven. Why is this the right age?
This is the ideal time for children to first visit an orthodontist for a few reasons. First, the child will have a mix of baby and permanent teeth, allowing the orthodontist to see how the smile is starting to take shape. Also, the orthodontist can identify and diagnose any issues with jaw growth and create a plan to address and correct these issues before they create bigger issues in the future.
By beginning a relationship with an orthodontist at the age of seven, your child can benefit from early interventive treatment, if needed. This early treatment allows the orthodontist to accomplish a few things:
- Guide and correct jaw growth to ensure there is adequate space for permanent teeth
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
- Avoid the need for potential extractions later
- Correct the effects of bad habits, such and thumbsucking or tongue thrusting
- Improve mild speech issues
- Improve how your child can chew and bite
Many orthodontic issues are best left to be treated until all of the permanent teeth have erupted. However, early treatment can be beneficial if the orthodontist believes the patient’s issue would worsen over time. The goal of early treatment is interception – meaning we can eliminate the cause of the issue so that we can create a beautiful smile and harmonious bite. In many cases, when we can guide the growth of the jaws and regulate the widths of the arches, we can create adequate space for the permanent teeth. This can make the later straightening phase of treatment much more efficient and effective.
Issues that can be addressed while your child still has some baby teeth include:
- Underbites, when the lower teeth fit over the top front teeth
- Crossbites, when the jaw shifts to one side
- Extreme crowding issues
- Excessive spacing
- Extra or missing teeth
- Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
- Habits, such as thumbsucking, pacifier use, or tongue thrust
Early treatment can take different forms depending on the need of the patient. We often use appliances, such as palatal expanders, that can guide the growth of the jaw, creating the space we need for permanent teeth. Growing children benefit greatly from early treatment that allows us to direct jaw growth.
If your child is around the age of seven and has not yet seen an orthodontist, schedule an appointment today with SBK Orthodontics. We have five conveniently located offices and experts waiting to help. Visit our website to request your complimentary consultation.