Whether you are young or old, a visit to an orthodontist is a great way to achieve the beautiful smile with the help of braces, for children or adults. A very common question asked by parents and guardians seem to be when is it time to bring their children to see an orthodontist. Although kids usually get braces as teenagers, it may be a surprise how young you can transition your children to an orthodontist, who specializes in straightening teeth. How can you tell if your child is in need of orthodontic care? Keep reading to find out more.
Common Problems Dentists Look for:
Besides monitoring the health of your child’s teeth with regular check-ups, child dentists will also look for any early oral issues that may benefit from early orthodontic treatment. If any possible problems are detected, your dentist will refer you to get an assessment with an orthodontist. Dentists usually look for:
- Losing baby teeth too early or too late – baby teeth are generally replaced with adult teeth between ages 5-14.
- Improper bite – such as overbite, underbite, crossbite or protruding teeth.
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb sucking – excessive thumb-sucking habit continuing past 4 years of age
- Speech impediments – having a lisp, slurring, mispronunciation, etc.
- Crowded or misplaced teeth
- Grinding or clenched teeth
When Should Kids Start Seeing the Orthodontist?
Any concerns regarding your child’s teeth should be consulted with your dentist to get a second opinion in case there is no issue. However, if preferred, you can also go directly to an orthodontist for a specialist assessment and opinion. Generally, your child’s dentist will recommend when it’s time to transition to start seeing an orthodontist based on the child’s development.
At what age should your kid start seeing an orthodontist? Most children will have lost enough baby teeth by the age of 7 to help determine any possible problems that may come up as adult teeth grow and braces come into the picture. This is generally the recommended age to start visiting the orthodontist. During this age, improper bites may start to visibly develop and an orthodontist can help correct any unhealthy oral habits to prevent costly extensive treatment down the road. If your child is currently over the age of 7 and appears ready for orthodontist treatment, no need to worry! It is never too late to start working towards a healthy, straight smile. Using a scoring system, your orthodontist will assess your child’s teeth and jaws to see if they are ready for orthodontic treatment. If treatment isn’t necessary yet, you may be asked to bring your child back for a follow-up visit to monitor teeth and jaw development.
What if My Child’s Teeth Looks Straight?
It may be tempting to delay seeing the orthodontist if your child’s teeth appear aligned, but there are several other factors that you may be overlooking. An orthodontist who specializes in this field may be able to spot underlying issues to prevent issues from getting worse.
What to Expect at an Early Orthodontic Treatment
If the orthodontist does recommends early intervention, catching it early is a great thing. Your child’s orthodontist may recommend treatment involving wearing fixed or removable child braces to help shift teeth or jaws to its optimal position. Many early issues are treated more effectively by addressing early, especially before all permanent teeth have grown and settled. Usually, it is a good rule of thumb to bring your kid in twice a year or every 6 months for check-up unless informed otherwise in a special situation requiring more frequent visits. These check-ups will give the orthodontist a chance to detect anything out of the ordinary or unhealthy oral hygiene habits to help correct.
Finding the Right Orthodontist for Your Child
You can consult with your child’s dentist for suggestions, or ask family or other parents for recommendations. These are great sources to start with, as you also do research in your local area for the right orthodontist for your child. It is important to seek a provider you have confidence in and feel comfortable to communicate with about any questions or concerns.
If you are in San Diego County, make sure you stop by Align Orthodontics or give us a call to see if we make a good fit for you and your child! Click here to schedule a new patient exam with us. We are more than happy to help shape your child’s smile.