While there is no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends visiting the orthodontist around age seven. By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it easier for our orthodontist to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery.
Most kids just need an orthodontic evaluation, which is done at no charge and doesn’t take very long at all. However, there are children who come in for an early treatment check-up and Dr. Wright can see problems that, if treated early, can avoid more intense orthodontic treatment later in life.
Owl Orthodontics can walk you through what to expect from every type of treatment. We have six convenient locations to better serve you. Give us a call today for a free consultation.
Early treatment allows our orthodontist to:
- Correct and guide the growth of your child’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
- Create more space for crowded teeth
- Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
- Correct thumb sucking and help improve minor speech problems
It’s not always easy to know if your child may need orthodontic treatment. An orthodontist has years of specialized training and will do a thorough evaluation.
Here are a few things to look for that may mean your child needs to see an orthodontist:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- A hard time chewing or biting food
- Mouth breathing
- Finger or thumb sucking
- Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
- Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
- Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
- Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
An incorrect bite, or “malocclusion,” which is Latin for “bad bite,” means that the upper and lower teeth do not fit properly when biting down. This is also called underbite, overbite or cross-bite, depending on the positioning of the jaw and teeth. Severe cases alter the way the child’s face looks and can have a negative impact on child’s self-esteem, making him or her vulnerable to teasing from their peers.
There are two “classes” of malocclusion:
Class I – moderate cases, where the misalignment of the lower and upper jaws is not visible but can affect how the child speaks or chews. Over time this can result in uneven wearing down of the teeth and if left untreated, a moderate malocclusion can become severe.
Class II – a visibly distinct overbite or underbite. A child with otherwise well-proportioned facial features has a distinct look that is impacted by the misalignment of the upper and lower jaws and teeth.
Malocclusion can be hereditary, the result of prolonged thumb sucking or the use of a pacifier. Malocclusions also occur if the mouth is injured in an accident and the jaw is moved by force.
Learn more about the use of facemasks and palate expanders for young children.
All of these treatments, if done when the child is young, can preclude the need for more invasive, more intense treatment—including oral surgery—during adolescence or as an adult.
Please contact us at 716-832-1550 to schedule an appointment for an orthodontic evaluation. Early treatment now will give your child a healthy, beautiful smile for the future.