Is My Child Old Enough for Early Orthodontic Treatment?

One of the questions you might find yourself thinking about as a parent is whether your child is old enough to start early orthodontic treatment. There is no right age for a child to start with teeth straightening treatments, but dentists typically recommend starting around the age of 7. At this age, most of the child's permanent teeth should have erupted. It is the eruption of permanent teeth that lets a dentist know a child is old enough for orthodontic treatment.

Dentists might opt to start early orthodontic treatment before the child reaches the age of 7 if they are already developing severe issues with their jaw. Generally speaking, it is easier to correct the alignment of teeth around the ages of 7 to 14 when the child's teeth are still developing.

The ideal age to start early orthodontic treatment

As was mentioned earlier, there is no ideal age to start orthodontic treatments, but the American Academy of Orthodontists recommends taking children to the orthodontist before they reach the age of 7. The dentist will evaluate the child's dental habits, bite and airway to determine whether the child needs orthodontic treatment.

Not sure if your child needs orthodontic treatment? Here are some of the signs that problems with the alignment of your child's teeth and jaw might be developing:
  • Difficulty biting or chewing
  • Breathing mostly through the mouth
  • Thumb/finger sucking
  • Misplaced or crowded teeth
  • Sounds coming from the jaw joint
  • Trouble speaking
  • Biting into the cheeks or roof of the mouth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Lack of facial symmetry
  • Teeth that do not meet as they should
Parents who notice any of these symptoms should schedule an appointment with an orthodontist.

What to expect when getting your child early orthodontic treatment

The typical orthodontic check-up serves as a learning opportunity for the child, their parent and the dentist. During this examination, the orthodontist can pinpoint subtle issues with the development of the teeth or the jaw.

If the orthodontist notices any abnormalities, they might recommend monitoring the development and growth of the child's teeth and jaw. A later date might be set for the child's first orthodontic treatment. If the problem has already started to progress, the orthodontist might opt to treat it immediately.

Benefits of early orthodontic treatment

Early treatment for orthodontic issues can help to prevent developing problems from morphing into something a lot more serious. It also gives the dentist an opportunity to fix issues that might not be fixable once the child's jaw stops growing and hardens.

Reasons parents should consider getting early orthodontic treatment for their child include:
  • Creates room on the jaw to lower the risk of crowded teeth
  • Improves the child's facial symmetry
  • Reduces trauma to protruding teeth
  • Reduces the need for extractions to make space
  • Shorter treatment times with appliances like braces
  • Corrects misaligned teeth, lowering the risk of tooth decay and gum disease

Stop orthodontic problems in their tracks

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Orthodontics for Children in Phoenix, AZ.

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