Between the ages of 6 and 12, a malocclusion, or bad bite, may become evident in your child. As adult teeth begin to develop, your child may experience crowding (teeth too close together), too much space in between the teeth, protruding teeth, jaw problems, or extra or missing teeth. Some of these problems are caused by poor dental hygiene, thumb or finger sucking, mouth breathing, etc., however many of these problems are just genetic. Even though orthodontic treatment does not generally begin until between the ages of 7 to 14, it is sometimes beneficial to have an orthodontic evaluation at an earlier age.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommend that children receive a check-up by an orthodontist by the age of 7.
Why should you start the process so early? Orthodontists have found that “interceptive orthodontics” (catching jaw and tooth problems before they become serious, and before all adult teeth are in place) is the most effective and quickest way to solve orthodontic issues. They prefer to evaluate children while they have a mix of baby and adult teeth, so they can catch problems as they are developing, not after they happen. By doing this, they are able to provide faster treatment, and sometimes can correct issues that are impossible to fix if you wait too long. An added bonus: starting the orthodontic process early may mean braces and other devices are off earlier.
Through regular dental examinations for your kids, you can remain in constant communication with your dental health professional regarding the possible need for orthodontics. Be sure to ask for a referral if needed. Dentists and orthodontists can work closely together to be sure your child’s smile is the very best it can be.