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When should I take my child to see an orthodontist?

Dustin S. Burleson, DDS
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
If your child is approaching the age of seven, it's time to make an appointment for an initial exam with your orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists has recommended that the proper age for a child's first visit to the orthodontist is no later than seven years of age. Often your orthodontist will identify a potential problem but recommend monitoring the child's growth and development. He or she can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while baby teeth are present and recommend starting treatment at the best possible time to minimize treatment duration and cost.

Remember, your orthodontist can improve most tooth and jaw alignment problems at any age, but there is usually a best age to start treatment, in terms of the amount of improvement that can be achieved and the treatment cost and duration. Because every patient presents with unique orthodontic problems and growth considerations, the "best age" to start treatment is different for every patient. Therefore, the best time for a consultation with your orthodontist is as soon as a possible problem is noticed.
An orthodontic screening exam is recommended by the age of 7 years old. The importance of identifying orthodontic issues as a younger age has been shown to minimize, or even eliminate, more extensive orthodontic treatment late in life. Often early orthodontic intervention can help guide proper jaw development and allow proper room for normal eruption of the permanent teeth.
Orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and 14. Treatment that begins while a child is growing helps produce optimal results. As a result, children should have an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7. By then, they have a mix of primary (baby) teeth and their permanent (adult) teeth. Your child's dentist can spot problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth early on, while the primary teeth are present. That's why regular dental examinations are important.
Gregory J. Jorgensen, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children be screened by an orthodontist at age 7. This is because by age 7, most children will have all of their 6-year molars and at least four of their permanent anterior teeth (two upper and two lower). With these teeth in place, your orthodontist can give you a very accurate diagnosis, treatment plan, and time table for what care your child will need over the following 5 to 10 years. Most orthodontists will offer this screening without charge. Give one a call!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.