Updated: Jul 26, 2019
Many parents face the questions — when should I bring my child to an orthodontist for their first consultation? When should I begin with their orthodontic treatment?
Well, the answer is that all ages are appropriate provided your orthodontist has completed his/her analysis of your current situation. Orthodontics is not limited to the alignment of teeth once they have all grown out. There are pre-orthodontic treatments to make the child’s teeth, at the eruption stage, come out properly aligned. It is recommended that every child should have their orthodontic treatment at the age of 7 as there is a wide disparity in tooth development at that age. Hence, many conditions are far easier to treat if they are caught at an early stage, when the child’s natural growth process is in full swing.
Early screening does not mean that the treatment has to begin right away. In fact, most kids don’t begin orthodontic treatment until they are 9-14 years old. Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age.
Children can be suggested braces for any number of reasons including crooked, overlapping or overcrowded teeth or when teeth are in “Malocclusion” (bad Bite). Malocclusion occurs when there is a difference in sized of the upper and lower jaw.
Overbite – When the upper jaw is bigger than the lower jaw.
Underbite – When the lower jaw is bigger than the upper jaw.
Tooth & jaw problems can be caused by losing baby teeth too soon, accidents, or habits like thumb-sucking. However, teeth & jaw problems are often hereditary. So, if any of the parents have had a history of orthodontic movement, it is likely that their kids will have them too.
There is no fixed age for a first orthodontic visit — some children go when they are 6, some may even in their late teens. Even adults who need orthodontic treatment can get it done.The most appropriate age for initial orthodontic screening is around 7 years. At this age, orthodontic issues such as ‘uneven bite’ or ‘overcrowding’ will become apparent. At the age of 8-11, typically the permanent molars have erupted fully (less the wisdom teeth). This gives your orthodontist to check for a developing malocclusion. The incisors have also started to come in and problems such as ‘deep-bite’, ‘cross-bites’, & ‘open-bites’ can be detected. There are several ways you can determine if your child needs needs early orthodontic treatment.
An Orthodontic assessment is recommended if the child qualifies for any of the following cases:
1. Early loss of baby teeth (before attaining 5 years of age).
2. If the child’s teeth do not meet properly while biting.
3. If the child’s front teeth are crowded.
4. A protruding front tooth.
5. If the child is facing difficulties while biting or chewing.
6. Speech impediment.
7. Thumb/finger sucking.
8. If the child’s jaw shifts upon opening or closing of the mouth.