When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?
Many parents assume that they must wait until their child has all of his or her permanent teeth before they can see an orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that all children get a check-up with an orthodontist no later than seven years of age.
Early consultation allows the orthodontist to identify any subtle problems associated with jaw growth and/or incoming permanent teeth.
As orthodontic treatment not only involves the teeth but also the surrounding boney structures, it is highly recommended to start treatment before the face and jaws have finished growing.
By age seven, the six-year molars (adult first molars) and incisors have usually erupted. After the first molars erupt the space available for the front teeth does not increase as a child grows. To the contrary, in most people after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.
Early treatment can also regulate the width of the dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth or the need for surgical procedures to realign the jaw.
A majority of children will not require orthodontic procedures until their teenage years, however an early exam allows the orthodontist to monitor the child’s growth and development and if indicated begin treatment at the most appropriate time.
If your child is nearing his or her seventh birthday, schedule an orthodontic consultation appointment. You don’t need to have a referral to see an orthodontist.
Many pro-actively schedule a consultation appointment either as a new patient or to seek a second opinion.
However, you should see your family dentist for professional cleanings and check-ups every six months, or more often if recommended.
Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age less complicated.