To have a healthy smile that’s good for life®, your child needs teeth and jaws that are properly aligned. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that your child get a check-up with an orthodontist at the first recognition of the existence of an orthodontic problem, but no later than age 7. By then, your child has enough permanent teeth for an orthodontist to determine whether an orthodontic problem exists or is developing.
Putting off a check-up with an orthodontist until a child has lost all baby teeth could be a disservice. Some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they’re found early. A check-up no later than age 7 gives your orthodontist the opportunity to recommend the appropriate treatment at the appropriate time. If early treatment is in order, the orthodontist may be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
Choosing the Optimal Time for Treatment : Consult an Orthodontist
While most orthodontic treatment begins between the ages of 9 and 14, some orthodontic problems can benefit from earlier treatment. If it appears that your child will need treatment at some point, your orthodontist can advise you about the best time to begin.
If early treatment is indicated, it can give your orthodontist the chance to:
- Guide jaw growth
- Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Improve appearance and self-esteem
- Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
- Improve the way lips meet
Keep an Eye Out for Warning Signs
It’s not always easy to tell when your child has an orthodontic problem. Even teeth that look straight may be hiding an unhealthy bite.
Here are some clues that may indicate the need for orthodontic attention:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty in chewing or biting
- Breathing through the mouth
- Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
- Jaws that are too far forward or back
- Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
- Protruding teeth
- Upper and lower teeth that don’t meet, or meet in an abnormal way
- An unbalanced facial appearance
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
Why do kids start braces so young?
Not all children who come to our office indicate the need for early interceptive orthodontic treatment. Some children show signs of benefiting from early treatment to aid in future eruption of permanent teeth, or to guide growth and development preventing future more serious problems. If your child shows signs of needing early interceptive treatment, we will review with you the benefits of doing so. If they do not need treatment right away, we will happily place them on a complimentary observation plan to closely monitor their growth and development.