Why Age Seven? The Optimal Age For Your Child’s First Orthodontic Evaluation
You may think you should wait until your child reaches his/her teen years before visiting an orthodontist; however, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) actually recommends that you begin much sooner. Visiting the orthodontist for an evaluation offers many benefits and may even help improve your child’s oral health and wellness.
Parents often associate braces and orthodontic treatment with puberty; the AAO recommends that all children see an orthodontist for an evaluation before the age of seven. Since most consultations with an orthodontist are complimentary, following this recommendation allows you to get valuable insight into your child’s health without any concerns about cost or affordability.
First Orthodontic Evaluation: Health Benefits
Your child still has plenty of baby teeth, and they make look perfectly straight to you, but there could be developmental or growth problems lurking behind that adorable smile. An orthodontist specializes in identifying issues with a child’s physiological development, including his/her jaw growth, overall bone structure, and emerging teeth. Taking an early peek at the jaw and mouthallows your orthodontist to identify problems right away and come up with an early treatment plan. This evaluation can often be done visually, without exposing your child to additional x-rays. With early evaluation and continuance monitoring, your orthodontist can let you know what to expect as your child grows and his/her adult teeth begin to erupt.
If an early evaluation does reveal some potential problems, then those issues can be addressed as your child grows. Handling some orthodontic concerns while your child is still experiencing rapid growth can prevent him/her from having more severe problems later in life. In some cases, early treatment will help to avoid surgery and prevent periodontal issues in the future.
An early visit to your orthodontist can improve and safeguard your child’s health in a variety of ways, including:
- Identify protruded front teeth and reduce the risk of trauma
- Correct oral habits that may be impacting your child’s teeth and/or jaw
- Guide jaw growth
- Optimize facial appearance later in life
- Assist permanent, adult teeth into a better position
- Improve bite and the way lips meet
- Improve speech
- Eliminate or reduce the need for corrective surgery as a teen or adult
- Shorten the length of any treatment needed as a teen or adult
Many teens and adults fear a visit to the dentist or orthodontist simply because they did not have enough familiarity with treatment and wellness care as a child. Early intervention makes it less stressful for your child to go to the orthodontist and/or dentist later in life. By preparing your child to expect regular visits, you make the office, the dental provider and procedures commonplace, which will build trust and comfort in the future.
What You Could Discover at an Orthodontic Visit
An orthodontist is an expert in aligning the teeth and jaws. An orthodontist first attends school to become a dentist, then attends an additional 3 years of schooling to learn specifically about tooth movement, facial proportions, proper alignment of the teeth and jaws, as well as identifying underlying habits or growth issues. Though young children don’t always require treatment it is important that an expert is the one to direct you in making the proper decisions when it comes to your child’s oral health. Not all children are in need of intercepted orthodontic therapy; therefore, your orthodontist could simply inform you that your child is growing as expected. Consider an orthodontic evaluation to be like a “well child” visit to the doctor, where the physician checks your child’s growth and development. Your orthodontist may determine that:
- Your child is fine and there is no need for early intervention with orthodontic treatment.
- Your child has some subtle jaw growth and emerging teeth problems, therefore, may need some form of intervention.
- Your child’s teeth may not be as straight as they appear, or may be impacted by other factors.
- Your child might have a developing problem, but not one that requires immediate intervention. In this case, you may need to follow up with the orthodontist again as your child grows.
- Your child may already have developed an issue that requires some type of treatment to ensure that their teeth grow in properly and that they do not need extensive treatment later.
Shullman Orthodontics has been Wellington’s choice for orthodontic care for over a decade. Since every patient is different, Dr. Howard Shullman can provide a full evaluation of what issues you might encounter and help determine a course of treatment designed to take advantage of your child’s growth and development before his/her jaw is fully grown.
By optimizing treatment, your orthodontist can ensure that your child has the best possible outcome in the least amount of time.
Scheduling a consultation appointment can give you valuable insight into your child’s health. Once you know the areas of concern, you will have the ability to take a proactive stance to ensure your child’s health and well-being.
Contact us to learn more about what to expect from your first orthodontic appointment and to schedule a complimentary consultation with your Wellington Orthodontist today. We’re here to make sure that your family stays healthy and that your kids will love showing off their smiles for years to come.