When should my child see an orthodontist?

Getting braces are almost a rite of passage nowadays. Teenagers like getting braces because it means they are that much closer to having a picture perfect smile that they can show off in the yearbook or to their friends, but those are only some of their benefits. Braces can help establish better jaw alignment, improve chewing and digestion, better articulation during speech, and can even help prevent snoring.

BUT how exactly do you know when your kid needs braces? Ideally, you want to visit an orthodontist before your kid needs braces, even if it is just for an evaluation. If you are concerned your child may need braces, always ask for recommendations of great orthodontists in your area. It is highly advisable to consult with other parents about their experiences, and ask your dentist about trusted orthodontists.

Your child turned 7 years old!!

Parents sometimes wait until their children have orthodontic problems to bring them in, but the American Association of Orthodontists recommends bringing your children to see the orthodontist by the time they’re age seven. Even at that age, whether if there are issues present or not, an orthodontist will be able to tell if your child is likely to have issues in the future.

Although this may sound early, but at age 7, many children have their first molars and other permanent teeth (upper and lower incisors). Seeing a child around the age of 7 allows orthodontists to examine young patients before their teeth become overcrowded. The orthodontist will monitor the childrens’ new permanent teeth come in to ensure that their bites are stable and their teeth have plenty of room to grow in their mouths. Some conditions are actually much easier to treat for younger patients, since the jaw is still developing and the patient is still growing. If you wait until they’re older, the jaw issues could be much more complicated to fix and may require surgical intervention to correct.

However, no need to worry — bringing your child to an orthodontist when he or she is age 7 doesn’t mean your child will need braces immediately. A majority of children with braces don’t get them on until they’re between 9 and 14. Your child may have a strong, stable bite, plenty of jaw room for tooth growth, and regular tooth spacing. Your kid may not need braces at all.

BUT how about where there is an obvious problem?

Does your child suck his or her thumb even though you think he or she is way too old to do so? Have you noticed issues with new teeth that have just come into the mouth? Does your child have a lack of space in his mouth? Does he or she have a clear overbite or underbite? Does he or she have trouble chewing food well? Does your kid breathe solely through his or her mouth? Have you noticed baby teeth hanging on when permanent teeth should have replaced them? Does your child grind his or her teeth or clench his or her jaw?

If any of the above apply to your child, your child should be evaluated by an orthodontist. Braces can fix many of these problems.

Even if your child is younger than age 7, consult an orthodontic specialist if you notice any of these issues. Identifying any oral problems early on will protect your child’s smile and ensure that he or she will have excellent dental health throughout his life.

Your child wants braces!

There are preteens and teenagers who want to have braces! As their friends at school get braces and their teeth start to become aligned, your child may want to better his or her smile, too. Having a straight smile is a big confidence booster, especially during the emotional teen years. Even if your child doesn’t need braces, he or she can still choose to get them to fix mild esthetic issues.

And remember, it’s never too late to be evaluated for braces. Braces can work wonders for both children and adults!