As orthodontists, we are mainly concerned with tooth irregularities and bite. Many parents mistakenly think that they should wait until all of their child’s permanent teeth are in to see an orthodontist for the first time. However, waiting too long to see an orthodontist for the first time can be harmful to a child’s oral health development.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends the first visit to an orthodontist should occur when your child is 7 years old. This age is chosen for several reasons. By this time, the first permanent molars and often the permanent front teeth have arrived or are getting close to arriving. We can use these as a guidepost for how further development will go. Much growth has taken place and features are being defined, but at this age, the bones in the face and jaw are still growing, making some orthodontic corrections easier.
By developing a comprehensive treatment plan, problems that may occur as the permanent teeth come in can be corrected early or completely prevented.
Even though misaligned baby teeth will eventually be replaced, they still affect your child’s bite and smile. Corrections made at an early age can help permanent teeth come in correctly, preventing unnecessary damage and wear, and positively impacting your child’s self-esteem and self-image.
Overcrowding and incorrect spacing can be corrected with spacers, palatal expanders, and similar orthodontic appliances. The issues that accompany overbites can be alleviated, though final treatment may wait until growth has stopped at around age 16. When underbite is treated at an early age, patients are much less likely to need corrective surgery on the jaw at a later age.
Sooner Rather than Later
Early orthodontic evaluations give your child the best chance for a healthy smile and bite. While there are good reasons for age 7 to be recommended, there is no one age that’s right for everyone. If you suspect your child may have bite or alignment issues, there is nothing that says you can’t bring him or her in to see us earlier than 7. If your child is nearing this age, and you are in the Metro Detroit area, contact our office today for a free consultation. We can answer your questions and together we can determine the best orthodontic treatment plan for your child.