When should my child see the orthodontist? It’s a good question and the answer has changed through the years. In the past, it was normal to seek out orthodontic treatment in the early to mid teen years. The orthodontists would then decide if they could straighten out the teeth with or without pulling a few teeth to create space. It was quite common to pull two to four premolar teeth to create the space necessary to straighten teeth.
Orthodontic treatment has come a long way and now there are so many other treatment options available. For instance, rather than waiting until all of the permanent teeth are in and then deciding if orthodontic treatment is needed, orthodontists like to see kids much earlier to see if there is any potential orthodontic needs either now or done the road. They can then use the growth spurts of adolescence to guide teeth into place and often stimulate bone growth to create the space needed. This is a much better option than pulling perfectly healthy teeth to create that space. Advances in knowledge, materials, and diagnostic ability has made this all possible.
Interceptive orthodontics is an extremely valuable option that orthodontists will often use to keep orthodontic treatment much more conservative. It isn’t always an available option, but the only way to know is to have the orthodontist see the child and decide what the best plan is. So, to answer the question, it is recommended that kids see the orthodontist at around age 7. This allows them to evaluate them and see if there are any potential problems that can be addressed much easier at this younger age. They usually don’t need to initiate treatment at this time, and they often put the child on a periodic recall to evaluate the stages of growth. But sometimes they do start treatment at this young age and this allows them to use all of the new options available so the best long term results can be attained. Age is critical for some of the treatment options, so it is important to get in to see them early.
If you have any questions, or if you need a referral to have your child see an orthodontist, please contact us so we can guide you in the best direction for your child.