Currently, there are 4 million people in the United States that are wearing braces. Out of those 4 million, 75% are under the age of 18. Early intervention is extremely important when it comes to maintaining good oral health and preventing relatively minor problems from growing into something more severe. Most orthodontists recommend that children have their first visits no later than age seven. This is because potential issues can usually be identified by this time and it gives the orthodontist time to come up with a future treatment plan.
If your child is nearing the age of seven or of they are older and haven’t yet seen an orthodontist, here is why you shouldn’t wait.
1. Early Identification
As noted above, by age seven an orthodontist can usually spot potential problems developing. By this age, most children already have their adult molars and thus problems such as abnormal bites, crowding or spacing can be noted more easily. While this doesn’t mean that your child will receive braces immediately, it does give your orthodontist an insight on what treatments they may need as they get older.
2. Jaw Growth
If an abnormal bite is particularly concerning, or at risk of becoming severe, an orthodontist can help guide it in the right direction while it’s still developing. With the help of orthodontic appliances designed to gently guide the jaw to a better position, children can more easily have this problem corrected, an endeavor that would be more difficult if the jaw was already developed fully.
3. Checking Non-Erupted Teeth
If not all of the teeth have erupted yet, an orthodontist can take x-rays to see their positions under the gums to ensure that nothing is impeding them from breaking through. If they are at risk of coming through at an odd angle, or if something is inhibiting them, an orthodontist can then take the necessary steps to rectify the issue.
4. Easier and More Affordable Treatment
Because children are still developing, it is often easier and less costly to treat their dental problems. This is because the teeth and jaw can be more easily manipulated into the right positions, as opposed to an adult who is already fully developed. Often if not treated in these early stages, problems can continue to grow in severity, further increasing the time and cost of treatment.
5. Breaking Bad Habits
Bad habits such as thumb sucking can cause the teeth to develop in the wrong positions creating an overbite. Orthodontists have several treatments available that can help break these habits and give your child a better shot at a healthier mouth. If stopped early enough they may not even need teeth straightening treatment in the future. As with the above, the sooner these are addressed, the less damage they can cause, and the easier it will be to remedy.
An Early Start For a Life-Long Healthy Smile
Early orthodontic intervention is the key to setting the foundation to a healthier mouth. While braces won’t always be necessary at such a young age, having regular visits starting at age seven can give your orthodontist time to monitor any potential issues that might require intervention in the future. In the event that your child does need braces, it will be much easier and more effective at a younger age, than if they were to wait until their late teens or adult years. Some children may even be good candidates for Invisalign, allowing them a more comfortable treatment period than traditional braces.
If your child is due for their first orthodontist visit, reach out to your dentist for a recommendation or schedule a consultation with a local orthodontic office in your area. While your kids might not enjoy heading in for a check-up now, they will definitely thank you for their smiles later!