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What is the best age for my child to see an orthodontist?

This is a very common question for parents because there is a lot to consider when deciding when your child should undergo orthodontic treatment.  When is the best time to start is a question at the top of every parent’s list.  Fortunately, this question has an easy answer.

The American Association of Orthodontists states that the ideal time for a child to have his or her first visit is at age seven (7).  This may seem like a very young age since the child still has many baby teeth.  However, it is an ideal age to identify future orthodontic problems and put a plan of treatment in place. This is because:

·  Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while baby teeth are still present, predicting and preventing possible issues which might arise in the future.
·  Because orthodontists specialize in identifying developing problems, they may be able to spot specific problems which a general dentist is not able to detect. These issues, such as crooked teeth, can be fixed with early orthodontic treatment however if not seen, they cause bigger issues in the future.
·  If a child does not see an orthodontist by the age of 7 and there is a problem which is not treated, it may make treatment at a later age much more time consuming and complicated.
·  In some cases, an orthodontist will be able to achieve results with children’s orthodontic appliances that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing, preventing orthodontic treatment later in life.

Why should your child see an orthodontist?

As opposed to the dentists, an orthodontist is a specialty doctor who deals with various tooth based problems, including crowding, spacing, tooth loss, and problems due to jaw and tooth misalignment. Ideally, the orthodontist can easily identify the problems with your child’s teeth after the age of seven.

Crowding and Spacing

This is the most common problem found in children. When a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the problem of spacing and crowding arises. When a new tooth comes, it becomes misaligned due to the lack of space. Improper spacing also leads to cavity formation in the future. Orthodontists carefully check the area and use arches or bridges to correct the misaligning of teeth by crowding and spacing. Arches are often used to help improve the situation caused by crowding and spacing of teeth.

Tooth loss and Eruption

In children, baby tooth usually starts to fall out at a specific age. However, the falling pattern may vary from person to person. By the age seven, your child should have four permanent incisors and four permanent molars. Any deviations from this pattern of tooth falling may cause crowding and spacing problem. Sometimes, this problem may lead to premature tooth loss and eruption. Orthodontists can correct this problem by maintaining the space between teeth with a bridge or arch. This will eventually prevent any further problem with teeth alignment and crowding.

Alignment

Alignment of teeth is a major problem in young adults. Due to crowding and spacing of tooth, your child may have teeth alignment issue in the future. As a result, your child may develop crooked teeth and overlaying gum issues in the future. Correcting alignment problem at an early age is highly recommended. Later, misaligned teeth may impact the self-esteem of your child. Orthodontists use braces and invisalign to correct the crooked teeth problem and misalignment of teeth. Although the alignment problem can also be corrected at a later age, you can always opt for early treatment by visiting an orthodontist.

Underbites

This problem is very common among children of 7-10 years of age. However, orthodontists advise to wait till your child reaches the age of 16. Usually, orthodontists start treating this problem only after your child has all fully grown teeth. To normalize the anterior bite, orthodontists use special treatments to shift the bite in order to avoid excess gum damage and occlusion. If your child shows the underbite problem at an early age, then take him/her to the orthodontist to find more options of definitive correction at an early age.

Posterior Cross-bites

Usually, children with posterior cross-bites problems face other teeth problems like crowding. Lateral jaw shifting is another problem that may arise due to cross-bites. To reduce the effects of this problem, orthodontists eliminate any shifting that may be present due to a slender upper arch. Treating this problem at an early age is highly recommended.

Protrusive Front Teeth

Most of the children usually have four fully-grown incisors by the age of seven. If your child’s front teeth stick out instead of staying within the jaw line, then you may need orthodontist’s help. This problem is the major cause of developing overbite in the course of time. Your orthodontist will suggest a safe and effective way to treat the protrusive front teeth problem easily.

Deep-bites and Anterior Open-bites

In case, your child has a vertical alignment problem, it may lead to anterior open-bites and deep-bites. If your child is of seven years, then this problem can be easily detected. Deep-bites may cause abnormal growth of teeth and crowding. Orthodontists will work with you and your child to eliminate such problem through several sessions, so your child will have a normal teeth development.

What are the Treatment Options?

Once you, your child, and your orthodontist determine it is time to begin orthodontic treatment, new questions may arise regarding what treatment options are available. Our Orthodontist offers a variety of treatment options such as:
·  Traditional metal braces: Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and arch-wires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding fun colored rubber bands for a more unique, personalized, and colorful smile.
·  Ceramic braces: Ceramic braces are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible than metal braces. However, they require more attention in regards to oral hygiene because they are larger and are more brittle than traditional metal braces. For these reasons, ceramic braces tend to be used more on upper front teeth than on lower teeth.
·  Invisalign: Invisalign is a series of clear, plastic aligner trays that can be removed to eat, drink, brush, and floss. Invisalign may be desirable because they are virtually invisible, easier to manage and care for, and very comfortable. However, Invisalign is not for every patient. Unlike traditional metal braces or ceramic braces, Invisalign may be less effective in more severe cases or may take longer in some situations.

Because every patient differs, our Newton orthodontist goal is to provide each patient with the appropriate treatment at the appropriate time. For more information or to schedule an Orthodontist appointment.