When is the right time to see an orthodontist?
Parents want healthy, beautiful smiles for their children, and they often ask us, “When should my kids get braces?”
While the answer to that question is unique to each child, an initial orthodontic exam should happen no later than age 7 as recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). Early orthodontic exams ensure concerns with the growth and development of the jaw and teeth are spotted by your orthodontist. While treatment is most common between the ages of 9 and 14 when permanent teeth are in, some orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected earlier in life.
Warning Signs of Early Orthodontic Problems
At age 7, your child will most likely have a mix of primary and permanent teeth, making it an ideal time for that first orthodontic exam. An early evaluation gives your orthodontist the chance to spot early orthodontic problems, including:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Concerns with chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Oral habits such as thumb-sucking
- Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
- Jaws that extend too far forward, back, or shift improperly
- Teeth that bite into the cheek or the roof of the mouth
- Severely protruding teeth
- Upper and lower teeth that don’t meet, or meet in an abnormal way
- An unbalanced facial symmetry or appearance
- Grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw and teeth
When necessary, early orthodontic treatment for kids can eliminate the need for more extensive treatment, or even surgery, once your child grows older. If parents detect any of these issues, we recommend you schedule an orthodontic check-up even before the age of 7.
What’s the difference between a single-phase and two-phase treatment?
If orthodontic treatment is necessary for your child, your Prairie Grove orthodontist will advise you on all available treatment options that meet your needs and goals. Typically, orthodontic treatment can be successfully completed in a single phase that begins after the age of nine when the permanent teeth have erupted. If early corrections are needed, your orthodontist may provide a two-phase treatment option.
A multi-phase treatment approach may be advised if severe orthodontic issues are detected in children when the baby teeth are still present. Two-phase treatments typically include a phase-one treatment of 1 to 2 years for the early correction of tooth and jaw problems such as severely protruding teeth. This early initial phase of treatment is followed by 1 to 3 years of wearing a retainer while the permanent teeth come in. After all permanent teeth are present, a second phase of orthodontic treatment typically takes place for up to 2 more years, in order to shape your child’s ideal smile.
In most cases, however, a single phase of orthodontic treatment is equally effective in achieving the desired treatment goals including proper function, a healthy bite, and a beautiful appearance. Single phase treatment often eliminates additional years of treatment time, extra costs, and orthodontist visits.
Rest assured, at Prairie Grove Orthodontics we always put our patients first. You can trust our experts to honestly advise you on ideal orthodontic treatments for your child at the most appropriate age. No matter what treatment is needed, our specialized orthodontic team is dedicated to providing the best possible treatment experiences and exceptional results – tailored to meet your child’s individual needs.
Free Orthodontic Evaluations
When considering orthodontic treatment for your child or yourself, we invite you to schedule a no-cost annual exam with our team. Everyone deserves a confident, healthy smile, and at Prairie Grove Orthodontics, we are proud to offer comprehensive orthodontic treatments for all ages, beginning by age 7.