According to the American Association of Orthodontists, most children should have had a screening by the age of 7. This gives the orthodontist enough time to determine if any treatment is needed, and the best time for the child to be treated. Dentists have been trained to look for and identify common orthodontic problems early and will be able to make the referral to the orthodontists if they see a need.
Early diagnosis and treatment are key when fixing the smile. Teeth that are just coming in can be guided to a better position, and space for permanent teeth can be preserved. This reduces fractures to the front teeth. The growth of the jaw can also be guided to ensure that there will be room for all the teeth that will be protruding in the future. The widths of dental arches can also be adjusted in order to create space for permanent teeth and avoid the need to extract a permanent tooth in the future. Orthodontists can also reduce the likelihood of impacted teeth, correct thumb sucking, and eliminate speech problems and abnormal swallowing with simple procedures.
While early detection and treatment works for most children, it does not help all children. There are certain orthodontic issues that can be corrected more efficiently in the teenage years, when all of the permanent teeth have come in. Some issues should not be addressed until growth is complete, or at least more advanced in the process. The doctors will come up with a plan based on the individual needs of the patient.
In addition to a new, beautiful smile, orthodontic treatments also have other benefits. For example, by utilizing braces, the patient has better function of the teeth and bite, less wear on the teeth, increased longevity of the teeth, and an increased ability to clean the teeth. Of course, not all orthodontic sessions result in braces. With early treatment, significant problems can be mitigated, and will prevent more severe issues from developing. When treated early, it is important to remember that all permanent teeth have not made their grand entrance and the final alignment may still be needed in the teenage years. However, in some cases, further orthodontic treatment may not be necessary. The need depends on the severity of the initial problem, and the individuals themselves.
While seeing the orthodontist, it is important to stress that you still need your regular dental checkups and cleanings every six months. Those with braces and other orthodontic mechanisms require more effort to keep their teeth clean and their mouths in tip top shape. To ensure the highest level of dental hygiene, please make and keep these appointments!
When choosing an orthodontist for your child, ask your dentist for a few different options. Consult with each one, and determine which one will be the best fit for your child. They want the child to have a stress free experience, and to leave with a smile! A good orthodontist will have no problem setting up a consult to ensure that they are a good fit for your family.