Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontics recommends that your child see an orthodontist before all their permanent teeth have come in? In fact, the AAO believes that children should see an orthodontist no later than the age of 7. At this point, your child will likely have a mix of primary and permanent teeth that an orthodontist will evaluate to determine if future orthodontic treatment is needed. In some cases, early orthodontic intervention may be recommended, while in other cases a “wait and see” approach may be best.
On average, orthodontic patients generally begin orthodontic treatment between the ages of 9 and 16. The starting point is based upon an individual’s physiological development, as well as their treatment needs. For the best treatment outcomes, here are 5 reasons why your child should see an orthodontist before the age of 7:
Their Bones are Still Growing
The main reason why orthodontists advise parents to have their children see an orthodontist is due to the fact that the facial and jaw bones are still growing. It is easier to correct problems with the bite and jaw when bone growth can be directed in a certain way. Once the facial bones have stopped growing, it becomes much more difficult to achieve results and in some cases, certain results may not be achieved.
Prevent the Need for Tooth Extractions
In some cases, your child’s jaw may be too small for the amount of teeth expected to erupt. In these cases, an orthodontist can recommend treatment options to gradually expand the size of the jaw, such as a palatal expander. By increasing the size of the jaw, this provides enough space for all the teeth to erupt and prevents overcrowded teeth from needing to be extracted.
Prevent the Need for Orthognathic Surgery
Orthognathic surgery, more commonly referred to as jaw surgery, is performed to treat individuals with severe alignment issues. These cases generally include malocclusions such as crossbites, open bites, overbites, and underbites that are so severe treatment with braces alone is not effective. Although some cases may still require surgery, early orthodontic treatment can help correct alignment issues before they become severe enough to require surgery.
Make Phase 2 Treatment Easier
Phase 2 orthodontic treatment, also known as active orthodontic treatment, can be directly influenced by phase 1 early orthodontic treatment. Simply stated, phase 1 treatment identifies minor problems before they are able to develop into more severe problems. Not only does this allow your child’s orthodontist to treat orthodontic issues early on, but it also means that less treatment will be required in the future.
Minimize Secondary Problems
Teeth that are crooked and overcrowded, as well as bites that are not properly aligned can increase the likelihood of secondary problems. These can include speech and eating problems, damaged teeth, and additional strain on the temporomandibular joint which can eventually lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). By taking your child to an orthodontist to have their teeth and bite properly aligned, you can decrease the likelihood that these secondary issues will occur.
Dr. Williams is current with all of the latest techniques and theories in the practice of orthodontics and is an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists. He is dedicated to providing the highest quality of orthodontic care to every patient.