When should my child have the first orthodontic visit?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visits an orthodontist at age seven. This may surprise you because orthodontic treatment is generally associated with adolescence. An early examination, however, is very important to ensure maximum dental health for your child.
The following early warning signs may indicate that your child should have an orthodontic examination as soon as possible:
- Difficulty in chewing
- Open-mouth breathing
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Overlapping or crowding of erupting permanent teeth
- Jaws that tend to click or pop
- A developing underbite, overbite, protruding front teeth, or other abnormal bite development
Although age seven is the best time for the majority of children to have their first orthodontic examination, a visit at an even younger age is advisable if a particular problem has been noted by the parent, family dentist, or child’s physician.
The Benefits of Early Diagnosis
Orthodontists can improve smiles at any age, but there is usually a best age for treatment to begin. An early examination allows the orthodontic specialist to determine how and when a child’s particular problem should be treated for maximum improvement with the least time and expense. In some cases, early treatment achieves results that are unattainable once the face and jaws have finished growing.
Catch them early with interceptive orthodontics!
In the past, children with bite problems could count on getting a full set of shiny braces after all their permanent teeth had come in; and perhaps wearing the braces into their late teens, too. Today, however, orthodontic treatment may begin as early as preschool.
Why the change? As general dentistry has become more preventive oriented, so has orthodontia. The key to early orthodontic treatment is interception... correcting little problems before they become big problems.
Interceptive orthodontics means that we treat poor tooth positioning when a child’s jaw, teeth, and other oral structures are just developing. We use a variety of modern techniques and devices to guide the permanent teeth so they will come in straight and healthy or to improve the way the jaw is growing.
Young children respond very well to interceptive orthodontics because it:
- is gentler and more comfortable for young patients
- retains permanent teeth in efforts to correct the bite
- helps children speak better and eat properly
- improves balance in facial form
- prevents potentially serious gum problems
- reduces the time a child spends in braces; children are often free of braces before they enter high school.
Our role in interceptive orthodontics is to carefully monitor and evaluate your child at every visit. We look for potential bite problems and disturbances in the growth of the jaw. And at the first sign of trouble, we will start your child in an orthodontic treatment program.