Does it seem children are getting braces younger and younger these days? Aren’t their baby teeth still in? When do I take my child to their first visit to the orthodontist? Most look to the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) for current case studies and up to date answers to questions like this for your child. According to the American Association of Orthodontics the best age to take your young child to the orthodontist for their first visit is at the age of 7. I’m sure you’re wondering why 7 years old? Can anything even be done at age 7? These are great questions. Most of orthodontic problems can actually be identified as early as 7. So here are some things to anticipate when your child attends their very first visit at the orthodontist.
Tooth Loss and Eruption: Teeth usually fall out in a certain order, more or less. If a child loses their teeth in a different order, this might be an indicator of developmental concerns which may need attention. From 6 to 8 years old, children will usually lose their first 8 teeth. These 8 baby teeth will be replaced right away with their permanent adult teeth. By the time a child reaches 7 years old, as many as four permanent molars should be in place. If there are more than the four molars and four incisors, crowding may occur. If a primary tooth falls out or is removed too early, larger health concerns are likely the older they become.
Crowding and Spacing: When a child is 7 years old, it possible to see what problems or concerns regarding spacing and/or crowding are present.
Alignment: Of course, teeth can be straightened when the child grows older. But having crooked teeth, can cause teeth to wear unevenly, and be permanently damaged. Having crooked teeth can also do damage to a child’s self esteem. Addressing a child’s orthodontic needs at an early age can help prevent self esteem issues and promote a healthier mouth and body.
Protrusive Front Teeth: It is common to find a kid’s front teeth sticking out farther around age 7 than they should be. Overbites, in most cases, cannot always be permanently corrected until the child’s growth has completely finished. However, the severity of the overbite can be significantly reduced causing the child’s future orthodontic treatment to much more comfortable.. Taking the precautionary measures of visiting an orthodontist when your child is young will help reduce the risk of long and uncomfortable treatment later your child’s life, all while helping them from a young age have a healthy beautiful smile.
Under-bites: Similar to overbites, it is best to wait for full development before treating an under-bite. However, like an overbite, early treatment can prevent shifting, or permanent damage to the front teeth. If the under-bite is noticed at age 7, or shortly after, treatment can be performed to help prevent the bite from becoming worse, therefore making additional orthodontic treatment more comfortable and many times less expensive in the long run.
Screening is recommended for patients when they turn 7 years old. By following the recommendations of the American Association of Orthodontists recommendations many health concerns or conditions can be identified and the corrective path be identified early on. Some patients will need to wait until they are more fully developed before beginning treatment. Many children will benefit from early exams and treatment by their orthodontist. Providing this opportunity for your child will help them have a healthier smile, reduce the severity of future treatment needs, increase their confidence and many time reduce a parent’s overall investment.