Parents frequently ask what the right time is for their child to see an orthodontist. Some people assume they should wait for their family dentist to refer them. Others are under the impression that orthodontics can wait until their child’s teenage years. After all, there may still be a ton of baby teeth in there and people often think of orthodontics in terms of the cosmetic straightening of teeth. However, orthodontics is also very important for proper growth and development!
The truth is, all children should be seen by an orthodontist by the time they are 7 years old!
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends the first orthodontic consultation take place at age 7. Every child is unique, but this is usually the age when the first handful of baby teeth have fallen out and new, permanent teeth are growing in. Sometimes, those teeth do not develop properly and can get way off track at a young age. As part of a free consultation, we at GoClear Orthodontics take a panoramic x-ray to check on the growth and development of the jaws, make sure there are no missing (or extra) teeth, and make a growth plan for the future. By doing this checkup at a young age, we can often catch issues that may not be readily visible and help prevent more complicated treatments later.
It is very common for kids to have mild crowding or spacing issues at age 7. Usually, those problems can wait until they are older. But, without a checkup from an orthodontist, you may not know what lies under the surface and if those issues can affect future growth and development. Think of it like a pediatrician’s visit; you take your kids in for regular check-ups to see how they are growing, not only because they are sick.
What happens if we find any issues and recommend treatment? We call treatment at this age “Phase One”, or early interceptive orthodontics. Many orthodontic problems have a simple fix at age 7 but can turn into a much more complicated situation by age 13 if left untreated. Our goal is not cosmetic perfection, but rather growth guidance. This can involve palatal expansion, wiggling out baby teeth, early braces, or even Invisalign First (clear aligners specifically designed for children age 7-10).
Your orthodontist can help you determine if treatment is needed and what options work best for your family, but only if they have their free check-up at age 7! Contact us at GoClear Orthodontics to set an appointment today!
Dr. Martin Avey is a specialist in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, with expertise in clear aligners and braces, and a passion for teaching and innovation.