When thinking about getting orthodontic treatment, middle school and adolescence is probably what comes to mind. Many parents are under the assumption that they need to wait until their child has lost all of their baby teeth before seeing an orthodontist. However, parents should consider scheduling an appointment for their child much earlier than that. Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth or teeth by age 7—even though baby teeth may still be present.
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) actually recommends that all children have a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7.
A check-up may reveal that your child’s bite is fine. Or, the orthodontist may identify a developing problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then begin treatment at the appropriate time for the child. In other cases, the orthodontist might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment. Early treatment may prevent or intercept more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
If something does need orthodontic attention, the problem can be addressed early and can potentially negate serious issues later down the road. What parent doesn’t want to prevent lengthy and costly orthodontic treatment, if possible? Actions can also be taken to help the transition of “baby” teeth to permanent teeth. There may be underlying problems with the way adult teeth are coming in—with the relationship of the upper and lower jaw, with tooth crowding, or problems that may be occurring due to thumb sucking or other habits. Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth or teeth eruption by age 7 – even though baby teeth may still be present.
Your child may already be showing signs that orthodontic treatment is in order. If your child is showing any of the following signs, look into scheduling an orthodontic exam:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty in chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb sucking
- Crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
- Jaws that shift or make sounds
- Speech difficulties
- Biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
- Teeth that meet abnormally, or don’t meet at all
- Facial imbalance
- Jaws that are too far forward or back
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
Through an early orthodontic evaluation, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile. If your child is older than 7, it’s certainly not too late for a check-up!
Check out www.mylifemysmile.org for more info or to find an orthodontic specialist in your area.