Patient question: “What is malocclusion?”

Are braces on the horizon for your child? Do you know?

You may think that braces are still a long way off. After all, your kid still has that sweet gap-toothed smile. How could you know if they’ll need orthodontia already?

Believe it or not, orthodontic treatment is no longer limited to tweens and teens. In fact, child orthodontic treatment is not only possible, it is often more effective than waiting until puberty is in full swing.

Child orthodontic treatment may be part of your kid’s dental care. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about visiting the orthodontist and the best time to start.

female orthodontist showing an x-ray to a child

Your First Child Orthodontic Appointment

The American Association of Orthodontists doesn’t just recommend orthodontic screenings. It suggests that children visit the orthodontist by age 7.

Why so early? After all, children don’t even have all their permanent teeth by then yet. This is because orthodontists don’t need to wait for all of a child’s teeth to fall out to see what the child’s mouth will look like as they age.

Most kids will have their six-year molars by age 7. They’ll also have at least four permanent anterior teeth in place (two on the top and two on the bottom). These teeth provide a useful guide to the child’s mouth and how it will develop over time.

When Will My Child Get Braces?

The orthodontist provides a diagnosis, treatment plan, and a treatment schedule. Your child’s diagnosis informs the treatment plan and when they’ll start treatment.

If you take your child in for a visit by age 7 and it’s determined that treatment is required, your ortho will recommend a plan that begins somewhere between ages 8 and 14.

Why Should I Start Orthodontic Care Early?

For many, orthodontic treatment is part of a complete dental health care plan. The problems assisted through these treatments are often far from being only cosmetic in nature. Orthodontic care also helps a child achieve a healthy mouth, jaw, and smile before they’re fully grown.

Although many of us didn’t visit the orthodontist until later in life, we now know how important it is to receive an evaluation early. If treatment is required, early intervention can have more effective results than those that occur later in life.

For instance, early treatment is beneficial for conditions like Class III malocclusion (underbite). With an underbite, the window of opportunity to make meaningful change disappears by age 10, so getting started at age 7 makes sense. And it creates results that aren’t often possible once a teenager’s jaw and face are fully grown.

Some of the other benefits are social. Kids are less self-conscious at age 8 than they are at 15. If it’s appropriate to start early, it relieves the anxiety that comes with braces during puberty and avoids the need to add crooked teeth to the long list of features teens often stress about when evaluating their own appearance.

Include Orthodontics Care as Part of Your Dental Health Routine

Your kid’s first visit to the orthodontist should happen at around 7 years old. By then, we’re able to accurately predict how their permanent teeth will come in and diagnose any serious issues. So, rather than waiting until your child is a teenager, think of your child’s orthodontics needs now.

If your child’s 7th birthday is fast approaching, call us to book your child’s first child orthodontic appointment today. Our offices are conveniently located in Milwaukee, Racine, and Brookfield.