Most parents would agree: seeing a big, warm smile on your child’s face is one of the most gratifying things about being a mom or dad. But keeping that smile healthy and bright requires good dental care that starts early in life and teamwork involving the patient, his or her family, the family dentist, the orthodontist and, as needed, other dental specialists.
Good Dental Health Starts Early
The American Dental Association recommends that a child visit the family dentist by his or her first birthday, while baby (primary) teeth are emerging. By seeing a child early, your dentist can see how teeth and jaws are developing and can alert you to changes that might occur as your child grows.
Early childhood is an excellent time to lay the foundation for a lifetime of good dental habits. But good dental health means more than the health of individual teeth and the gums. To get a smile that’s good for life, your child needs teeth and jaws that are properly aligned-in other words, a healthy bite.
All Kids Should Get an Orthodontic Check-Up No Later Than Age 7.
When most people think of orthodontics, they think of teenagers. And the fact is, most orthodontic treatment begins between the ages of 9 and 14, however, by age 7, most children have a mix of adult and baby teeth. Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. That’s important, because some orthodontic problems are easier to correct if they’re found early.
For these reasons, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child get an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7. While your child’s teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem that only an orthodontist can detect. Of course, the check-up may reveal that your child’s bite is fine, and that can be comforting news.
Even if a problem is detected, we may not recommend immediate treatment. Chances are, we will take a “wait-and-see” approach, checking on your child from time to time as the permanent teeth come in and the jaws and face continue to grow. For each patient who needs treatment, there’s an ideal time for treatment to begin in order to achieve the best results. The orthodontist is the specialist who has the knowledge to determine when the time is just right.
Benefits of Early Treatment
In some cases, we might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment. Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing, and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. Typically, early treatment involves the use of orthodontic appliances, which may be removable, to guide the growth of young bones and create a better environment for adult teeth as they emerge. In some cases, we will be able to achieve results that wouldn’t be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing. Early treatment gives us the chance to:
- Guide jaw growth
- Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Improve appearance and self-esteem
- Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
- Improve the way lips meet
Signs the Bite’s Not Right:
It’s not always easy to tell when your child has an orthodontic problem. Even teeth that look straight may be hiding a problem bite, and that’s why it’s important to take your child for that first orthodontic check-up no later than age 7.
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
- 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
An Affordable Investment With a Lifetime of Benefits
In addition to improving oral health, orthodontic treatment can provide the confidence that comes with a healthy, attractive smile for years to come. And you may be pleasantly surprised to find how affordable such a great investment can be. We will work with you to arrive at a payment plan that fits within your budget. In addition, many dental insurance plans now include orthodontic benefits.
Dollar for dollar, when you consider the lifetime benefits of orthodontic treatment, it is truly a great value.