How do you know when to start orthodontic treatment and when your child should receive his or her first orthodontic evaluation? Contrary to popular belief, children should receive their first exam before all of their permanent teeth have emerged.
According to the AAO (American Association of Orthodontists), the optimal time is around age 7.
So why should your child receive an orthodontic evaluation when they don’t have all of their permanent teeth yet?
Our orthodontists, Dr. Spillers and Dr. Gordon, are highly experienced in assessing growing mouths and detecting problematic orthodontic conditions before they fully develop. Many orthodontic problems are rooted in the alignment or width of the jaw. All of the permanent teeth do not need to be fully erupted for our orthodontists to identify these problems.
In fact, it’s often better to treat alignment problems before all of the permanent teeth and jaws have fully developed. If we recognize that your child would benefit from early treatment to prevent aid in proper growth of the jaw and eruption of permanent teeth, then we will make that recommendation.
Can a 7-year-old get braces or Invisalign?
Early orthodontic treatment is most effective when it’s broken up into two phases that compliment the natural development of the teeth and jaws. Although it’s beneficial to perform an orthodontic exam around age 7, this doesn’t necessarily mean your child will begin treatment or get aligners or braces at age 7.
Our goal during the first evaluation is to assess the skeletal and dental relationship, and determine its relation to your child’s chronological and dental age. Our orthodontists can detect problems, like a narrow palate, missing teeth, asymmetries or a malocclusion (abnormal alignment), around age 7.
What happens if my child needs treatment?
During your child’s orthodontic exam, if we determine that a problematic condition is present or will soon arise, we may suggest that he or she begin phase 1 treatment. This may include an orthodontic appliance, like a palatal expander, to correct a crossbite or partial brackets to create a sufficient amount of space in the mouth for all permanent teeth to grow.
Using appliances around this age is ideal, because they work alongside the natural development of the teeth and jaws. This can reduce or even eliminate the need for future treatment. (As some conditions progress and the bones are further developed, jaw surgery may be necessary treatment. If we intervene with treatment before the condition progresses, your child may only require braces or clear aligners to treat the condition.)
Once there’s enough space for permanent teeth to grow, we may determine that Invisalign or braces at age 8 or 9 would be beneficial. Phase 1 treatment generally begins around the ages of 7 to 10, and phase 2 treatment often follows once most of the permanent teeth have erupted. Every child develops at a different rate, so your child may be ready for an orthodontic evaluation around age 9, or a little later in the early teen years—it all depends.
We’re also proud to offer clear aligner treatments for all ages! Due to Dr. Spillers’ and Dr. Gordon’s level of expertise, we can treat even small smiles with Invisalign or our very own brand of SO Clear Aligners.
The Right Treatment – at the Right Time
Our orthodontists will suggest the right treatment at the right time for your individual child and their needs. Sometimes that means letting young patients mature a bit before we start treatment, putting braces on over multiple appointments, or holding off on treatment until your child will experience the maximum benefit.
Your child’s treatment plan will be 100% personalized for him or her. No two children are the same, and no two smiles are the same! We only want what’s best for your child’s smile, health and self-esteem.
Still have questions about your child’s first orthodontic evaluation?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! We’re here to guide you through your treatment process, from your very first visit, to your last appointment. If you’re looking for a top orthodontist in Warner Robins or Macon, we’d love to meet you! Request a complimentary exam for you or your child today.