When Should my Child see an Orthodontist?

Did you know that your child does not have to wait until all of their permanent teeth have grown in to visit the Orthodontist? What would you think if I told you waiting too long to take your child to the Orthodontist could actually do more harm than food in the long run? The following are some reasons why it may be harmful to bring your child to the Orthodontist after their permanent teeth have grown in.

Everything is Growing

A child’s mouth is a very busy place. Everything is still growing, shifting and changing within the child’s mouth. Approximately, around the age of 6-7, a child’s permanent teeth start to appear as more and more baby teeth start to fall out. Nearly 2/3 of a child’s tooth is covered by gum tissue as well as bone that secure the teeth. There are times when gum tissue has played a difficult card when a child’s permanent teeth start growing in. Early or late loss of baby teeth can indicate a problem as well as trouble chewing, biting, any speech difficulties or mouth-breathing issues. If any of these major issues occur after a child’s permanent teeth have grown in, the issue may more difficult to treat rather than before the permanent teeth erupted.

Family with Braces

It’s not About the Smile, it’s all About the Bite

While having a beautiful smile is an added bonus it is not the main objective of Orthodontic treatment. The main objective of Orthodontic treatment is actually to perfect your bite and ensure that your upper and lower teeth fit together and match up like interlocking gears.  Depending on the severity of every child’s case can differ, but on most occasions, timing can be crucial. While it is a personal preference when you first decide to see an Orthodontist, it can be recommended that Orthodontic treatment may be better treated while the baby teeth are still present in the mouth. A child’s baby teeth act as anchors for the permanent teeth beneath and if it was lost abruptly or due to decay, it is possible it may affect the permanent tooth below and cause it to uproot crooked or in the wrong location. A child can require growth guidance of the bones in their upper and lower jaws so there is enough room of all of the permanent teeth to grow in. There are times where a treatment can be timed to an average predictable state of dental development and physical growth as well. Once your teeth are correctly aligned, the beautiful smile is just an added bonus.

Orthodontist VS. Dentist

Just because both doctors work in the mouth, their perspectives may differ intensively based on the case each individual provides. Dentists assess the overall health of oral hygiene and will address and treat cavities and gum disease.  Often times, Orthodontic treatment can be perceived as purely a cosmetic fix without the general knowledge behind what really goes on inside the mouth. Often times as you get older, Orthodontic treatment can be a lower priority to a dentist. Because Orthodontic treatment is about the bite and not the smile, Orthodontist use panoramic x-rays to visualize the teeth above the gum line and the jaw at the same time. Children do not need a referral from a dentist to see an Orthodontist or seek Orthodontic treatment.

Age 7

The American Association of Orthodontist (AAO) recommends that children have their first visit with an Orthodontist no later than the age of 7 years old. If an issue were to arise, an Orthodontist now has the opportunity to address the issue and provide the most appropriate treatment at the most recommended time.  There’s no need to wait until your child has lost all of their baby teeth, and it is fine to visit your Orthodontist then as well, even if your child is younger than 7 years old. Many Orthodontic Offices offer free consultations for first time patients and there’s no time like now to schedule your complimentary consultation to come and see us at Orthodontic Center of OC. Call now or fill out the form here to schedule your first appointment.

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