Parents may believe that they don’t have to start thinking about braces until their children reach their teenage years, but orthodontic treatment actually should begin much earlier than that. It is recommended that parents have an orthodontist evaluate a child by the time the child is 6 or 7 years old. At that point, enough of the child’s permanent teeth have erupted that potential problems with the positioning of the teeth may become apparent. Issues with the alignment of the child’s jaws can also be identified at that juncture.
Furthermore, an orthodontist can treat issues identified early with interceptive treatment, which can prevent the development of a more serious dental issue in time. As a result, interceptive treatment may reduce the amount of time the child will need to spend in braces later or possibly eliminate the need for additional orthodontic treatment entirely.
On the other hand, if parents delay scheduling an initial evaluation by an orthodontist, it may give the jaw’s development a chance to create an environment for more complicated issues that require more intensive treatments and take longer periods of time to complete.
When some sort of preliminary intervention is indicated, it may not involve traditional brackets and wires—the braces that most people think of. Other appliances may be used to manipulate the rate of jaw growth, for example, or to expand the jaw to create more room to allow the teeth to erupt into their desired positions.
Even if the specialist does not identify any problems at that initial evaluation, it’s still valuable to have a baseline against which any future changes in the smile’s alignment can be compared. This can give your child an opportunity to get timely treatment if a problem should emerge at some point.
If your child is approaching his or her 6th birthday, it may be time to schedule an orthodontic evaluation. Call our office today to set up an appointment.