As a parent, you want the best for your child. That includes healthy teeth and a pleasing smile. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that a child visit the dentist by his or her first birthday. Your pediatric dentist can alert you to any concerns about how the teeth and jaws are developing but sometime orthodontists can spot more subtle problems.
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that your child get a check-up with an orthodontist at the first recognition of an orthodontic problem, but no later than age 7. By then, your child typically has enough permanent teeth for an orthodontist to determine whether an orthodontic problem exists or is developing.
Should I See an Orthodontist Even if the Teeth look Straight?
While your child’s teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem that only an orthodontist can detect. The check-up may reveal that your child’s bite is fine; in fact the majority of children at this age require no treatment at all. Or, the orthodontist may identify a developing problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then if indicated, begin treatment at the appropriate time for the child. In other cases, the orthodontist might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment.
Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to:
- guide jaw growth
- lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
- correct harmful oral habits (thumb-sucking, prolonged pacifier use, tongue thrust)
- improve appearance
- guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
- improve the way lips meet
Through an early orthodontic evaluation, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile. Because patients differ in both physiological development and treatment needs, the orthodontist’s goal is to provide each patient with the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time.
Signs the Bite’s Not Right
It’s not always easy to tell when your child has an orthodontic problem. Even teeth that look straight may be hiding an unhealthy bite. Here are some clues that may indicate the need for orthodontic attention:
- early or late loss of baby teeth
- difficulty in chewing or biting
- breathing through the mouth
- crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
- jaws that are too far forward or back
- biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
- protruding teeth
- upper and lower teeth that don’t meet, or meet in an
- abnormal way
- an unbalanced facial appearance
- grinding or clenching of the teeth
Our orthodontic evaluations are complimentary and do not require a referral from your dentist. Call our office or visit our website to submit an appointment request.
Peter An Truong, DDS, MS
Diplomate, American Board of Orthodontics
3963 Portola Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92602