When to See an Orthodontist

Share:

If you've been thinking about orthodontic treatment for someone you care about, you may be wondering: When is the right time to see an orthodontist? It's an excellent question, and there are several ways to answer it.

Three out of four children have crowded teeth and incorrectly developing jaws. Parents may notice these problems very early. Although, you may have been told to wait until your child is older to be evaluated, we prefer to see children around five years of age. 

For girls, their jaws and faces reach their full growth potential even earlier than boys. We love to see girls between five and nine years of age. 

You should see an orthodontist any time you have a question about the alignment of your child's teeth, or the quality of their bite. Sometimes, a problem in this area is painfully obvious. For example, you may notice your child having difficulty biting, chewing or speaking, or some of their teeth may be clearly protruding, crowded or misplaced. If that's the case, then it's time to schedule a free consultation with our office.

The magic of orthodontics video

Other conditions may not be as clear cut. Mouth breathing, clenching or grinding your teeth, and the inability to comfortably close your lips may be signs that treatment is needed.

Teeth that meet abnormally can even cause a facial imbalance (asymmetry), meaning that some facial features aren't in proportion with others. This is a problem that can often be corrected by treatment when caught early.

Orthodontics for Children

 Orthodontic Problems.

In addition to these general guidelines, there are some specific recommendations for children. The American Academy of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that your child have an orthodontic examination by age 7 — for two very good reasons. We prefer to screen children as early as 6 years of age. 

One stems from the fact that there's a wide disparity in tooth development at that age — so it takes an expert to tell if a child may actually have an orthodontic problem, or if it's just a normal developmental variation. By that time, an orthodontist can usually determine whether or not there will be adequate room in the mouth to accommodate the permanent teeth.

The second reason for an early exam is that many conditions are far easier to treat if they're caught at an early stage, when children's natural growth processes are in full swing. For example, a palatal expander appliance can effectively treat a child's crossbite (a condition where the upper teeth close inside the lower ones) because a youngster's jaw is still growing rapidly. However, if left untreated, oral surgery could later be required to correct this serious condition.

There are other problems commonly seen in childhood that may also benefit from orthodontic treatment. These include the early or late loss of baby teeth, persistent thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms, it may be time to visit our office. 

Related Articles

Orthodontics - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Magic of Orthodontics Proper alignment of the teeth is basic to “Smile Design.” Their position dictates how they work together and affects the way you look and smile. Only orthodontic treatment can move teeth into the right position. Simply put, when things look right, they probably are right. Learn the basics of smile analysis and design and whether the magic of orthodontics will work for you... Read Article

Early Orthodontic Evaluation - Dear Doctor Magazine

Early Orthodontic Evaluation Early detection of orthodontic problems in young children may make it easier to correct those problems in the long run. Waiting until all of the permanent (adult) teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may make correction of some problems more difficult or even impossible. An early childhood orthodontic evaluation can yield excellent results... Read Article