What Age Is Right?
When Should a Child First See an Orthodontist?
Orthodontics can play a huge role in young children appearance and health. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontics recommends that an orthodontist examine children by the time they are seven years old. Yes. While baby teeth are still in their mouths. And yes, while their teeth and mouths are still developing. Your child’s Dental Associates pediatric dentist is trained to identify bite issues at an early age and will refer a child to one of our orthodontists at the appropriate point in time.
To create a smile that lasts a lifetime, your child needs teeth that are straight and jaws that are aligned properly. That all begins with the baby teeth; the way they are aligned, when and how they fall out, and how much room they are allowing or not allowing for the emergence of permanent adult teeth. That’s why it’s a good idea to have an orthodontist exam your child while they still have their baby teeth.
While your child’s teeth may look straight, there may be underlying problems with the way adult teeth may be coming in, with deep bites, open bites, and cross bites, with the relationship of the upper and lower jaw, with tooth crowding, or problems that may be occurring due to thumbsucking or other habits. Orthodontists can pinpoint these problems, even if they are subtle, and can start correcting any problems to avoid potential problems for future adult teeth. By age seven, enough permanent teeth have emerged for your orthodontist to evaluate relationships developing between teeth, jaw and bite and make sure all will continue to develop as they should.
Your child may or may not need orthodontic work. That will be determined by the examination. But no matter what, you will get the peace of mind that early detection and treatment will result in a lifelong smile for your child.
Orthodontic Exam by Age 7
The transition from primary teeth (baby teeth) to permanent teeth is extremely important. Where primary teeth are located is important. When primary teeth fall out is important. Primary teeth set the foundation for permanent teeth and their proper positions. That’s why it’s important to have a Dental Associates orthodontist examine your child’s mouth while they still have primary teeth (baby teeth). Your child’s teeth may look straight, but there may be underlying bite problems.
Some of your child’s behaviors may give some indication that an orthodontic examination is in order, too. Discuss your concerns with your pediatric dentist who will refer you to one of their orthodontic partners, if your child:
- Loses baby teeth early or late
- Has difficulty chewing or biting
- Breaths through their mouth
- Sucks their thumb
- Has crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
- Has a jaw that shifts or makes sounds
- Has difficulty speaking
- Bites their cheek or the roof of their mouth
- Has teeth that meet abnormally, or don’t meet at all
- Has a facial imbalance
- Grinds or clenches their teeth
- Have jaws that appear too far forward or too far back