In addition to these general guidelines, there are some specific recommendations for children. The American Academy of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that your child have an orthodontic examination by age 7 — for two very good reasons.
Early Age Dental Development
One reason stems from the fact that there’s a wide disparity in tooth development at that age — so it takes an expert to tell if a child may actually have an orthodontic problem, or if it’s just a normal developmental variation. By that time, an orthodontist can usually determine whether or not there will be adequate room in the mouth to accommodate the permanent teeth.
Identifying Potential Issues
The second reason for an early exam is that many conditions are far easier to treat if they’re caught at an early stage, when children’s natural growth processes are in full swing. For example, a palatal expander appliance can effectively treat a child’s crossbite (a condition where the upper teeth close inside the lower ones) because a youngster’s jaw is still growing rapidly. However, if left untreated, oral surgery could later be required to correct this serious condition. Read more about common orthodontic issues that require treatment here.
There are other problems commonly seen in childhood that may also benefit from orthodontic treatment. These include the early or late loss of baby teeth, persistent thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms, it may be time to visit our office. But keep in mind that early screening doesn’t mean treatment has to start right away — In fact, most kids don’t begin active orthodontic treatment until they’re 9-14 years old.
If a child undergoes treatment early, will this prevent the need for braces as an adolescent?
Early orthodontic treatment can begin the correction of significant problems, prevent more severe problems from developing, and simplify future treatment. Because all of the permanent teeth have not yet erupted when early treatment is performed, their final alignment may not have been corrected.
Typically, a shortened comprehensive phase of treatment, known as Phase II treatment, in the teen years, after all the permanent teeth have erupted, completes the correction. However, in some circumstances, further orthodontic treatment may not be indicated.