When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

Seeking early orthodontic treatment is a big step, not only for your child, but for you as well. Figuring out the means necessary to fix the issues, not to mention finding ways to finance the treatment can seem like a daunting task, and you may think putting it off is the best decision. While there may not be a “perfect” age to begin orthodontic treatment, there are ways to determine if your child is ready.

If you are wondering when your child should start seeing an orthodontist, here are some helpful tips to make a more informed decision.

Why Do Children Need Braces?

Orthodontic treatment corrects a wide variety of issues not only in children, but in young adults and older adults as well. Issues treatment address include:

  • Overbites
  • Underbites
  • Crossbites
  • Spacing issues
  • Crowding problems
  • Crooked/misaligned teeth

Some children may have jaw issues associated with losing their baby teeth too early or certain oral habits, such as thumb sucking or prolonged pacifier use. When it comes to orthodontics, it’s best to treat these issues early so they don’t cause your child problems later on in life.

When to See an Orthodontist

Most likely, your general dentist will be the one who notices any issues with your child’s teeth first and may recommend they begin treatment. In observing your child’s teeth as they grow, your dentist can best determine when it may be the right time to seek the expertise of an orthodontist. Most likely, they will have a trusted source they can refer you to when it comes time to begin treatment.

As far as the best time to begin treatment, it can vary from child to child, but it’s best to wait until the permanent teeth are beginning to come in. When this occurs is different in every child, but American Association of Orthodontists recommends seeing an orthodontist around age seven. Be wary of orthodontists who state that age five or six is the best time, as it’s still a bit early to get a clear picture of what’s going on with the teeth. This can be a sign of an orthodontist who may not have your child’s best interests in mind.

The Benefits of Orthodontic Care in Children

Addressing issues early on can make the treatment easier because your child’s jaws are still developing and all of their permanent teeth have not come in yet. Correcting a narrow or misaligned jaw can be accomplished in teens or adults who are done growing, but it may require more intense treatment, including surgery.

While some forms of early orthodontic treatment, such as palatal expanders or headgear, can seem intimidating, the results will very much be worthwhile. Kids also have more options for early treatment than ever, including Invisalign First. This treatment option can expand the dental arch, fix severe crowding, and address other issues.

Ensuring proper alignment and jaw shape and size at a young age can provide the space adult teeth need to come in properly and can make any additional orthodontic treatment needed – such as braces or Invisalign – take less time. But doing it too soon (i.e. before age seven) can make the treatment less effective and a possibly be a waste of money.