When should my child see an Orthodontist?
At what age should I bring my child for an orthodontic check up?
As a parent, you want the best for your child. That includes healthy teeth and a pleasing smile. For healthy smile that is good for life your child needs teeth and jaws that are properly aligned. While the American Dental Association recommends that a child visit the dentist by his or her first birthday, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child gets a checkup with an orthodontist at the first recognition of an orthodontic problem, but no later than age 7.
What is an Orthodontist ?
Orthodontist is a dentist who has successfully completed an additional 2 – 3 years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to straighten and align teeth, bite and jaws in an accredited residency program in a hospital or dental school. The program is geared to teach the orthodontist skills required to manage tooth movement ( orthodontics ) and guide facial development ( dentofacial orthopedics ). Orthodontists limit their scope of work to orthodontics only.
Is my child ready for braces at 7 ?
While most children at ready for braces between the age of 9 – 14 years based upon loss of baby teeth ( early teethers vs late teethers ), some children with severe malalignment can benefit from early intervention directed towards guidance of jaw growth ( dentofacial orthopedics) and eruption of teeth through a short phase ( 6-12 mos ) of lesser invasive appliance therapy which necessarily does not need to involve braces on teeth.
In majority of cases this first phase of interception is very effective in decreasing the severity of teeth and jaw misalignment and often times prevents need for extraction, surgeries to uncover impacted teeth and surgeries for alignment of jaw at an older age that are needed when these severe cases are left unattended till during the growth and developmental period of jaws and teeth.
I call it jaw growth guidance therapy and I strongly believe that it gives the orthodontist an opportunity to intercept, remove and often times reverse the unfavourable environmental constraints on the development of jaws and teeth so ideal teeth and bite alignment can be achieved through the natural growth blueprint of the human DNA. Early interceptive phase prevents more serious problems from developing and make final treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated.
Another aspect of early interceptive orthodontics is that it can lower the risk of trauma to protruding teeth, correct harmful oral habits which create a negative environment for teeth and jaw development, create a more pleasing arrangement of teeth, lips and face for higher self confidence of the child. Appropriate positioning of teeth is important for speech development also.
Narrow upper jaws are associated with restricted nasal passages, sleep apnea in young kids which can lead to sleepiness and attention deficit during day time hours. This can affect academic and athletic performance of kids at school.
Through an early orthodontic evaluation, you will be giving your child the best opportunity healthy, beautiful smile and life. If your child does not have these severe conditions and is not a candidate for early interception the orthodontist will wait till the child is ready for braces for teeth alignment and straightening.
Problems to watch for in growing children:
- Protruding teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Crowded misplaced or blocked teeth
- Speech difficulty
- Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
- Facial balance or asymmetry, cross- bites
- Inability to comfortably close lips
- Grinding or clenching teeth
An orthodontist can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while baby teeth are still present. Even though teeth and bite alignment via orthodontic treatment ( in combination with surgery when needed ) can be achieved at any stage in life for your healthiest bite possible, early interception when deemed necessary is the most non-invasive natural path to the development of ideal jaw size and shape, teeth alignment, bite balance and facial and smile aesthetics.
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Dr. Heir of Laguna Palms Orthodontics got her dental degree from the University Detroit Mercy and her Masters in Orthodontics from Columbia University, New York. She has been practicing Orthodontics for more than 15 years and truly respects and loves what she does. She has a wide experience in treating orthodontic case ranging mild to severe malocclusions needing jaw surgery. Her youngest patient is 5 yrs old and her oldest patient is 68 yrs old. It has been a very fulfilling experience for her to see the confidence a beautiful healthy smile can bring in a person's life especially children. For a FREE consultation, call the office at (916) 698-2622.View All Posts