If your young child has protruding or misaligned teeth, or other jaw problems, you may not be thinking about braces.
That’s still several years away … isn’t It? Not necessarily.
While the most common age for braces is the teen years, our office agrees with the American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendation that you have your child see an orthodontist for evaluation by age 7. At that age, the child’s permanent teeth are coming in and we will know what is happening in her mouth.
One caution: If you notice obvious problems, like these below from the University of Rochester Medical Center Health Encyclopedia, you should have your child examined even earlier than age 7:
- Early, late or irregular loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
- Jaws that shift, make sounds, protrude or are recessed
- Biting the cheek or roof of mouth
- Teeth that don’t meet correctly
- Jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face
An early orthodontic visit is important so we can set the course of treatment. After the first checkup, we will be able to determine when your child should start braces and what types of devices might be needed.
Most often, we recommend waiting until the child is a little older to begin work. But in some cases we will want to start right away with what we call “early interceptive orthodontic treatment.”
That is a mouthful of words to mean we will be catching a problem now that, if left untreated, could require more extensive or complex work later. By correcting some dental issues at a young age with early orthodontic treatment, we often can:
- give permanent teeth adequate room to erupt in proper or better alignment
- shorten or eliminate the need for braces later
- prevent later extractions or even jaw surgery
- correct finger-sucking or tongue-thrust habits to prevent deformation in the shape of the upper jaw
- perhaps reduce the overall cost of your child’s braces
Another reason to see your orthodontist early is that some problems are easier to correct while the child’s bones are still growing and flexible. Crossbites and underbites are two examples.
Early intervention has other advantages: Correcting a malocclusion that involves crowded teeth will make it easier for the child to brush, floss and chew properly, giving the child a head start on good dental health. And properly aligned teeth improve the look of the face and, of course, the child’s smile.
If you have any concerns about the way your young child’s teeth are forming, call our office for a free consultation. We can help you decide on the best course of treatment to give your child a healthy mouth and a beautiful smile.
If your child is already a teenager, we offer InvisalignTeen, a system of nearly invisible braces that straighten your child’s teeth while allowing him or her to eat and brush normally and smile with confidence. Our office is an Invisalign Elite Preferred Provider, meaning we are in the top 1 percent of Invisalign orthodontists in the U.S. Call us for a free consultation.