As your child grows, you’re keeping track of all their milestones, but there’s one you’re still wondering about: When should you visit the orthodontist for the first time to find out if they’ll need braces?
This is a common question for parents as their children begin to get older. The experienced team at Fresh Dental Care in Houston, Texas, deals with this issue frequently — here’s their advice to parents.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children should see an orthodontist by age 7. By this time, your child has lost enough baby teeth and gained enough permanent teeth that the orthodontist can discover any problems while they’re still small and easier to treat.
You may already know they need orthodontic treatment because some problems are obvious, such as very crooked teeth or a big overbite. Other problems, though, may be undetected until an orthodontist can do an exam along with panoramic or 3D X-rays to check below the surface for other issues such as extra teeth, missing teeth, or teeth that may be impacted or coming in at the wrong angle.
Some children have teeth that are in great shape and won’t need any treatment at all. Others may need to wait until more of their permanent teeth have grown in before treatment will be effective for them.
If your orthodontist determines they do need to start treatment at an early age, it will usually take place in two phases — Phase 1 is usually between the ages of 7-10 and consists of a milder form of treatment such as a retainer, a palate expander, or even braces on the front of the teeth. This treatment will fix the immediate problem, and can even guide the growth of the jawbone and facial bones to provide more room for teeth to come in correctly.
Problems that may lend themselves well to early treatment include underbites, crossbites, very crowded teeth, extra or missing teeth, and teeth that may meet abnormally.
Sometimes, Phase 2 treatment isn’t needed at all because Phase 1 corrects the problem. If Phase 2 is needed later in the teen years, it will likely include a full set of braces or Invisalign treatment.
If it’s time for your child’s first orthodontist visit, the team at Fresh Dental Care offers high-quality orthodontic care for the whole family. Just call any of our five Houston-area offices to set up an appointment today!