Educating parents about the importance of early orthodontic intervention and taking children to see an orthodontist by age seven is part of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) new Consumer Awareness Program campaign. “When Should Your Child See an Orthodontist?” is the second video in the Straight Talk series. In the latest video, Dr. Larry Wang, an AAO orthodontist, offers his expertise, complemented by thoughts from the Tooth Fairy and a well-informed seventh grader.
It is recommended that age seven is the best age to see an orthodontist and will help keep your child’s oral health in check. And it may help you avoid more costly or more invasive treatments down the road.
Palatal expander: Your child may be a good candidate for palatal expansion, which can widen the upper jaw and help reduce crowding in abnormally narrow arches. Ideally, a palatal expander is used when a patient is still growing. Expansion occurs when the growth plate or suture in the middle of the palate is stretched, and the two halves are pushed apart. As the two halves are spread, new bone is added.
In younger patients, palatal expansion may reduce the need for extractions or prevent impacted teeth. Cases not corrected in growing patients may require surgery for correction in adulthood and may lead to abnormal wear or bite problems if not corrected at all.
Early orthodontic intervention, like a short time in braces, can correct problems early on to prevent larger problems later.
An example of interceptive treatment is correcting an anterior crossbite.
Tooth removal: Sometimes, removing baby or impacted teeth can help permanent teeth emerge better and encourage them to come in closer to their ideal position even without an orthodontic appliance. Your orthodontist will suggest the best time for extractions to take advantage of your child’s growth and development. Getting them into the orthodontist early allows you to receive the optimum treatment for them.
Not all early visits result in orthodontic treatment.
One of three things could result from early orthodontic treatment for children.
- There may be no need for treatment recognized at that time.
- Treatment may be necessary in the future, so the child will be followed periodically while the face and jaws continue to develop.
- A problem that would benefit from early treatment already exists, and you are in the right spot to get started!
Most orthodontists offer free consultations and early orthodontic evaluations for kids, so there’s no reason to wait.
Trust an AAO orthodontist.
You can work with an AAO Orthodontist to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile at any age. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and possess the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Find an orthodontist near you at aaoinfo.org/locator.