When is the best time to begin orthodontics?Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.

Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for orthodontic evaluation?While orthodontic treatment most often begins between the ages of 9 and 14, some orthodontic problems are easier to correct if they are treated early. By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. A radiograph can also determine if the child has any extra, missing or severely misplaced teeth. Timely evaluation increases the chances for an incredible smile.

What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, Dr. JAW can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal. An early evaluation ensures that the child will have ideal growth and development and helps establish a long lasting relationship with the orthodontist making the child feel comfortable when he or she is ready for treatment. This also ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. There are a few signs that your child may need early orthodontic treatment.

Signs the Bite is Not RightIt’s not always easy to tell when your child has an orthodontic problem. Even teeth that look straight may be hiding a problem bite. Here are some clues that may indicate the need for orthodontic attention:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty in chewing or biting
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
  • Jaws that are too far forward or back
  • Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Upper and lower teeth that don’t meet, or meet in an abnormal way
  • An unbalanced facial appearance
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth

Orthodontists are dental specialists who diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities. They receive an additional two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth.

Not only do well-aligned teeth look good and feel good, they also are important to good dental health. Poorly aligned teeth can lead to dental problems. Not everyone needs orthodontic treatment. But if your child does need help, it pays to start treatment when you have the greatest chance for success. Make sure your child receives an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7.