What is the Best Age for an Orthodontic Checkup?

A group of children posing for a picture.

When you think of the most common age for wearing braces, you probably picture the pre-teen and teen years. If you have spent any time in middle schools or high schools, you tend to see a lot of kids sporting one of the many orthodontic options available today including the traditional metal braces and Invisalign aligners. Orthodontic care should start a lot earlier than this though.

What is the Best Age for an Orthodontic Checkup?

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, everyone should have a checkup with an orthodontist no later than the age of 7 years old. This is so any potential problems can be spotted as early as possible. Through x-rays and a physical evaluation during the whole process of baby teeth being replaced by the permanent teeth, the orthodontist can spot emerging issues before they develop into full blown problems.

Even if your child’s teeth appear straight, there could be an underlying issue with the bite that only the orthodontist will catch. Don’t just wait for your child’s dentist to alert you to any possible problems. They might not always catch the more subtle issues that can pop with jaw growth or teeth movement that an orthodontist is trained to catch.

What Happens at This Initial Checkup?

An early checkup doesn’t necessarily mean that the orthodontist will recommend braces at an early age. At the checkup, the orthodontist may give the all clear sign and reassure you that your child’s bite seems to be developing fine or he or she may suggest monitoring your child’s oral health just in case problems do develop. If and when a problem develops then the orthodontist will recommend starting treatment. This may mean checking in with the orthodontist at regular intervals in addition to your child’s regular dental appointments. If at this initial checkup, the orthodontist does see an issue with the jaw or teeth, he or she will then prescribe early treatment.

What Are the Benefits of Early Treatment?

While it may seem like overkill to have your seven year-old in braces, by treating any development issues early, the orthodontist can help prevent more serious problems from developing further down the line. The orthodontist will also have a chance to help guide jaw growth and tooth movement so that permanent teeth move into the correct position.

Certain issues can be resolved better if caught early like crossbites which can lead to teeth and bone damage. Also, sometimes early palatal expansion which widens the maxillary dental arch and the palate so that the upper jaw better matches the width of the lower jaw can prevent further dental issues and pain down the road.

In addition, because kids are still steadily growing at this age, treatment will be easier and more effective than attempting braces at a later phase of development. Other benefits include less risk of trauma to the mouth that can happen when the front teeth protrude, the ability to nip bad oral habits in the bud earlier and improve your child’s appearance. Often time jaw issues affect the shape of our face and how our lips meet.

Each patient is different so treatment paths will vary, but by scheduling an early orthodontic evaluation for your child, you can feel confident that you are doing everything possible to for your child’s oral health.

Overall Oral Health is Important Too

Of course it is not just the appearance of your child’s teeth that matters, but their overall oral health. That is why besides an early orthodontic evaluation, you should also make sure that your children start having regular dental exams by the age of one. Those cleanings and evaluations every six months will help prevent cavities and gum disease as well as help you spot any potential dental development issues as early as possible.

Taking preventive measures can really make a big difference. Something as simple as the timing of the loss of baby teeth can have serious implications for the development of your child’s smile. If your child has lost baby teeth too early, your dentist will recommend your child seeing an orthodontist to get spacers put in to prevent emerging adult teeth to drift into these empty spaces. This early precaution could prevent the need for braces once your child hits the pre-teen and teen years.

How Do I Pick the Right Orthodontist?

For the best early treatment, finding the right orthodontist is essential. If you trust your dentist, then ask him or her for recommendations, but also feel free to ask family members and friends for recommendations as well. Besides getting recommendations, also make sure that you do your own research as well.Here are a few things to look for in an orthodontist:

  • Education and experience: Make sure any orthodontist you choose is board certified through the American Board of Orthodontics and is skilled in all orthodontic techniques. They should be knowledgeable about all the current trends and innovations in orthodontics.
  • Before and after pictures: Orthodontic is as much artistry as it is science so being able to see proof of their work is a must. If they don’t display before and after photos of their website, then ask for them when you go in for a consultation.
  • Good first impression. Trust your gut reaction. You should always set up a consultation with any orthodontist that you are seriously considering. During that first visit, study their chairside manner. Do they and their staff make you feel comfortable and answer all your questions? Is the office clean and modern with all the latest technologies?
  • Affordable payment options. Orthodontic work is an investment and you want to get the best price you can. Compare the prices they offer for the different types of treatment and see who offers the best payment plan.

With all the right information in hand, you will be able to make the best decision for your child. It is an important decision so don’t rush into anything. Take the time to do proper research and to feel confident in your final choice.

Need to bring your child in for an orthodontic checkup? Contact Orthodontics Limited for an appointment.