At What Age Should You Start Taking Your Child to the Orthodontist?
At What Age Should You Start Taking Your Child to a Child Orthodontist?
Part of how you know your child is developing is when they start shedding their baby teeth and getting permanent ones. If you notice signs of dental issues as your child undergoes tooth exfoliation, you might wonder if it's time to see a child orthodontist.
Mind you, delaying treatment can lead to serious health conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea in children. This post outlines the right age to begin taking your child to see an orthodontist.
What is the Best Age to Take Your Child to an Orthodontist?
If you were thinking of taking your child to an orthodontist later in life, you need to rethink that decision. The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that every parent bring their child for a first-time orthodontic visit by age seven.
By this age, your child still has baby teeth with permanent teeth waiting to burst through, and the face and jaw bones are still not fully grown. As such, an orthodontist can carefully assess your child's dental structure, from the jaws, teeth, and bite, to determine whether they might require treatment at that point or later in life.
What Should You Expect on the First Visit to an Orthodontist?
If an orthodontic evaluation reveals dental issues, an orthodontist will initiate the First Phase Treatment Plan. This treatment is tailored to your child's specific needs to halt the progression of current problems and prevent future ones from arising. It focuses on:
- Adjusting and Aligning Upper & Lower Jaws: Jaw growth deformities can leave the teeth protruding and block airflow to the child's lungs, causing sleep apnea. Jaw alignment helps position the jaw in the best position to accommodate permanent teeth and allows proper airflow.
- Making Space for Crowded Teeth: At seven years old, the baby teeth should be active in the process of being completely replaced by permanent teeth. A simple dental x-ray could reveal any baby teeth that are overlapping permanent ones to prevent overcrowding.
- Lessening the Likelihood of Braces: If your child's teeth are crooked or misaligned, an orthodontist will perform corrective measures, like installing Invisalign, to help straighten them. This reduces the chance your child will wear braces for most of their teenage life.
- Reducing Probability of Surgeries: Any dental issues and their resulting impacts can be traced and prevented early during the first visit to an orthodontic care facility. This will reduce the likelihood of your child requiring complex dental surgical procedures in the future.
Which Signs Might Indicate Your Child Needs Orthodontic Care?
You can spot certain signs that your child needs orthodontic care. Some of the symptoms you should be on the lookout for include:
- Early loss of baby teeth – the early loss of teeth could indicate underlying issues such as weak gums that can cause dental issues later.
- Pain while eating – this could signal that your child has misaligned teeth or other dental irregularities.
- Sucking thumb – thumb-sucking is a problem that could lead to overbites.
- Overbite – this could indicate the presence of vertical space between front teeth when a child bites down.
- Misaligned teeth – could signal overcrowding due to overlapping baby teeth and permanent teeth.
The sooner you begin treatment, the healthier your child's dental health will be as they grow. Early treatment can also prevent more significant problems such as headaches, jaw pain, and sleep apnea later in life.
Schedule Your First Visit With a myOrthos Practice
If you're not convinced your child needs to visit a child orthodontist, you should talk to a dental health professional to help alleviate those concerns. We can help you find an orthodontic practice near you to get more information on your child's long-term dental health needs. You can also explore our website to learn more about our licensed orthodontic practices.