If your child’s permanent teeth are erupting, it may be time to think about taking a visit to an orthodontist. A dentist who is trained to specialize in straightening and aligning the teeth and bite is called an orthodontist. The ADA and the American Association of Orthodontists suggest children who are seeing the emergence of permanent teeth should be evaluated for orthodontic treatment. For most kids, this happens around the age of seven.
At this time, the orthodontist can detect potential issues with the incoming permanent teeth, as well as assess jaw growth. Having an evaluation does not mean your child will need braces, or that they will need them right away. Early screening simply helps the orthodontist recommend future treatment and develop a plan for addressing any problems they have identified. Issues such as overcrowded teeth or a misaligned bite are easier to correct while your child is still growing.
Historically, orthodontic treatment with braces involved a single-phase treatment that starts in early adolescence after all baby teeth are gone, and most of the permanent teeth have emerged. However, with current technology, many orthodontists now prefer a two-step process that can start much earlier. The first step usually uses an appliance to prepare the teeth and bite for the second stage of traditional braces. This two-phase treatment usually means a shorter time spent in braces than a one-phase treatment requires.
Having your child evaluated by an orthodontist early in their oral development will give you options for treatment that you may no longer have if your child is evaluated after all the permanent teeth are in place. To ensure your child a lifetime of spectacular smiles, get an evaluation early.