When Should My Child Start Orthodontic Treatment?
Staff | July 2019
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children have their first orthodontic exam at the age of 7. What does “orthodontic” actually mean? Simply put, orthodontics is the dental specialty that deals with irregularities of the jaw and teeth. There are two main ways that orthodontic issues are corrected: through the use of fixed appliances and removable devices.
- Fixed Appliances: This refers to the most popular method of correcting orthodontic issues: braces. Braces are available in traditional silver or clear. Typically, this process involves attaching a bracket to individual teeth. These brackets are connected by a small, gentle wire that is gradually adjusted over the duration of treatment.
- Removable Devices: As the name suggests, these are appliances that can be removed, such as Invisalign or retainers. These types of devices can sometimes be used to move teeth or are utilized after braces to keep teeth in their correct alignment.
Having crooked teeth, a misaligned jaw or lips can affect not only a person’s self-esteem but their speech and health too. Orthodontics is one of the biggest specialty areas of dentistry, in fact, more than 5 million people in the United States and Canada are in the care of an orthodontist. So when is the best time to get your first orthodontic checkup? The American Association of Orthodontics recommends this be done before all of a child’s permanent teeth erupt, at least by age 7. It is possible that problems will develop as a child’s permanent teeth are erupting; but by quickly identifying such problems, we can reduce their severity and prevent early issues. In addition, early orthodontic treatment may eliminate or reduce the need for more extensive orthodontic work later on.
The purpose of an initial orthodontic exam is to determine if orthodontic treatment is warranted, and if so, when the optimal time would be to begin treatment. Many times, during the first visit we find that the patient is not yet ready to begin treatment, and that waiting for more growth and development is the best course of action. In some cases, there may be a developing issue where early treatment is warranted. Treatment is usually only planned for younger patients if there is a significant discrepancy between the upper and lower jaws, or if there is not enough space for the adult teeth to erupt at an age appropriate time. In this type of situation, we will plan for diagnostic records to be taken. Diagnostic records include digital photographs, a digital scan of the patient’s teeth, and digital panoramic and cephalogram radiographs. If time allows, these diagnostic records can be taken at the time of this initial visit.ag
These days, orthodontic care is commonly being given to patients of all ages, from childhood through adulthood! People can obviously reach physical developmental milestones at different ages, but on average by 12, most if not all of the permanent teeth have erupted and are in place, and crooked teeth, gaps, and bad bites can easily be detected. Each patient is unique--while some patients benefit from early treatment, most benefit from starting treatment around the time of adolescence, and some even when growth is close to completion.
At EJL Dental, Dr. Johnson always looks forward to welcoming new patients to the orthodontic side of our practice. We strive to make your first visit a simple and pleasant appointment. We recognize that every person (and their teeth!) is unique and we individualize their treatment plan to provide the most effective, gentle care possible in the best timeframe. We can guide you on the journey to healthier, more beautiful teeth whether you’re 7 years old or 107 years old! Schedule an appointment to start your journey today.