When Your Child Should Visit an Orthodontist & Why

Written by: Sam Ghosh

Young firl with traditional braces smiling

Updated October 29, 2021

A parent wants the best for their child, especially when it comes to their health. Orthodontics can help treat issues with the jaw, the alignment of the teeth, and their bite. Orthodontists promote proper alignment in the teeth, which can reduce the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and more serious issues later in life to promote oral health. 

Parents typically take their children to the dentist by their first birthday, but there is some confusion about when an orthodontist can and is needed. Pediatric orthodontics can have great effects on a child’s life, from added confidence to healthy teeth and jaws.

When should children have their first appointment with an orthodontist?

Most people are under the assumption that a need for orthodontic treatment is based on age, but it is all dependent on dental age. One of the most common questions we get from parents is about when to make their child’s first orthodontic appointment. 

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children should be evaluated by an orthodontist between the ages of 7 and 9, with the optimal age being 7. Typically, a good indicator that an appointment should be scheduled is if their front permanent teeth have completely grown in or if there is extreme crowding. 

Although 7 years old may seem too early for an orthodontic evaluation and even braces, but it can help ensure that children have a healthy beautiful smile.

How long does early treatment last?

In most cases, orthodontic treatments begin between the ages of 9 and fourteen with treatment times varying from one to three years based on the case and method of correction. On average, 2 years is the median treatment duration.

What factors should be considered?

Conditions to keep an eye on as your child loses their baby teeth include odd spacing of teeth or jaw misalignment. You should also watch to make sure that permanent teeth are coming in the correct ways. Orthodontic treatment will be needed to fix teeth that did not come in the right way or are coming in underneath the baby teeth but are not coming through the gum line properly.

The Phases of Pediatric Orthodontic Treatment

As a general rule, orthodontists are going to fix a child’s mouth issues in a couple of different phases. 

Phase 1 is usually less invasive than the other phases. This phase includes correcting a child’s harmful habits that can have a negative effect on their teeth like teeth grinding. 

Phase 2 of orthodontics for kids includes the actual orthodontic treatment. In this phase, braces or other forms of corrective treatment are introduced. Children will undergo orthodontic treatment as prescribed by Dr. Ghosh. Phase two usually makes the child feel better about their general appearance, specifically when it comes to their dental work. 

Phase 3 involves the upkeep of the teeth after treatment is completed. This will most likely include a retainer and normal dental checkups.

The Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment

Detect problems early

By the age of seven, the adult molars have most likely popped up in your child’s mouth. This is the perfect time to visit Dr. Ghosh to check on their risk of conditions such as an underbite, overbite, open bite, and other issues. 

These problems are easy to fix when they are discovered at an early age. It is easy to manipulate the jaw to correct the problem before it occurs. With the use of a simple device, we can guide the jaw to align the right way.

Straighten permanent teeth

Dental problems such as malocclusion are frequently seen in children. Symptoms exhibited by malocclusion include mouth breathing and difficulty chewing. Through early intervention, orthodontists can correct any dental problems since the jaws are still developing.

Correct Crowding

Teeth crowing is one of the main reasons most parents seek out orthodontic treatment for their children. Parents often get worried that their child’s jaw is too small or too narrow to accommodate permanent teeth. Early intervention can correct crowding teeth and boost the appearance of their smile to give them more confidence.

Nip bad habits in the bud

It’s normal for young kids to suck their thumbs, but when they get to a certain age, it can alter the shape of their jaw and cause their adult teeth to grow in crooked. It can also cause a crossbite, an open bite, and protrusive teeth due to the pressure applied by the thumb. Your child could also have an increased risk of mouth infections, improper jaw development, and speech problems. 

If you are unable to stop your child from thumb sucking or tongue thrusting or sucking, you can utilize the services we provide here at Ghosh Orthodontics. You can schedule an appointment to get orthodontic solutions to stop these bad habits.

Enjoy Lower Costs

The first thing to think about when scheduling your child’s first appointment is whether or not you can afford it. If your child has issues that require correction such as braces, you need to consider how much those procedures will cost. You should then consider looking into payment plans. Orthodontic issues do not fix themselves, so if you wait, that may mean that their treatment done in early adulthood could be much more expensive. 

Fixing jaw and teeth issues is easier in young children, so we are able to charge less and provide less complicated treatment plans. Your child can reap the benefits of early orthodontic care, and the earlier you bring them in for an evaluation, the less it will cost.

Improved Self-Confidence

Confidence is priceless. Issues with teeth can often affect a child’s self-confidence. They might not want to smile for their school picture or they could feel self-conscious about their appearance. Early orthodontic treatment can help them grow up with a boost of self-esteem. 

Not every child will need orthodontic treatment at a young age; however, getting a consultation from Dr. Ghosh and his team of certified orthodontists will help ensure that your child has a healthy smile. Schedule a complimentary evaluation at our Allentown or Pottsville office for your child, today! 

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