Parents are often surprised when their pediatric dentist recommends taking a young child to the orthodontist. After all, most people associate braces with teenagers, and it may seem odd to put braces on baby teeth. However, the American Association of Orthodontists currently recommends that all children should see an orthodontist by the time they are seven years old. There are several reasons for this and knowing why this early first visit to the orthodontist is important will help you plan to preserve your child’s beautiful smile as they enter adolescence.
Why an Orthodontist is Necessary
Although your child may see their dentist regularly, it is important to know that there are huge differences between what dentists and orthodontists do. Your dentist is trained to use x-rays to identify decay and possible tooth issues as they arise. However, they may not be able to detect things such as jaw joint disorders that affect teeth alignment. During your early visit, the orthodontist will assess your child’s incoming teeth along with things like their facial profile to identify abnormalities that affect their development. Severe issues that affect your child’s ability to eat, chew or sleep comfortably can be treated even at the age of seven so that issues that are correctable do not impact your child’s development.
Treatment May Not Begin Right Away
If your child’s orthodontist does find abnormalities, take a deep breath and prepare to relax. Many times, this visit is used to simply identify a child’s possible long-term needs. At this point, an orthodontist can usually see if all the permanent teeth are coming in as expected. Especially, those crucial front ones that affect your child’s appearance and the back molars that impacts their ability to chew and speak. In most cases, your orthodontist will recommend waiting until your child is mature enough to take care of their orthodontic appliances before beginning treatment.
Creating a Future Orthodontic Plan
Waiting until your child needs treatment gives their teeth time to change, and it also allows your child’s orthodontist to closely monitor for any changes that need to be addressed sooner than expected. After your child’s early visit, you may be asked to schedule future appointments at regular intervals that allow the orthodontist to monitor their development. For example, a tooth that has not come in on time may just be slow to emerge, and it eventually grows in with no additional problems. Alternatively, newly emerging teeth may shift others out of place and lead to a need for braces. Having knowledge of these incidents ahead of time allows your family to plan for orthodontic treatment.
Fostering a Relationship Built on Trust
Young children are sometimes anxious about meeting new people, especially those that will be working closely on their body. For this reason, a visit to the orthodontist by the age of seven is just like taking your child to the dentist as an infant. You want your child to develop a trusting relationship with their orthodontist, and starting young is the best way to make that happen.
At first glance, it may be shocking to think your child could need to see an orthodontist at such an early age. However, it really does make sense to schedule that appointment once you understand the benefits. Whether your child needs treatment now, later, or not at all – having that first orthodontic exam by age seven will give your family peace of mind about the future.
Why Choose a TAO Orthodontist?
When you choose a TAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a true orthodontist. Like their medical counterparts who study their specialty areas after their general medical education, orthodontists study their specialty area, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, after completing their general dental education. Only bona fide orthodontists get to be members of the American Association of Orthodontists and Texas Association of Orthodontists (TAO).