Truth be told, there’s no fixed age for a child to see an orthodontist for the first time. Some go as early as toddlers, while others go at six or in their teenage years. Some don’t even go until they become adults. However, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, children should start receiving orthodontic treatment as soon as they hit seven.
The Earlier, the Better
Around the age of seven, our adult molars will already start appearing. This is also when the earliest signs of common bite problems like an underbite, overbite, or crowding, start showing. Although orthodontists can still fix these “malocclusions” later on, the earlier they are detected, the easier it will be for them to correct the problem.
This also extends to common mannerisms in children, for example, thumb sucking. Because this habit can lead to crooked teeth later on in life, it’s best to discourage children from doing so. But if it can’t be helped, your orthodontists can solve the problem, in addition to preventing any permanent damage.
Mind you, taking your child to the orthodontist early doesn’t necessarily mean that your child will get braces right away. It simply improves the orthodontist’s chances of detecting problems in your child’s teeth early on so they can give you the right advice on the best course of treatment.
What Happens During the First Orthodontic Visit?
Mostly because they’re dealing with children, pediatric orthodontists often start off with a quick tour of the office. This to put the patient, and you, the parents, at ease. Then, the orthodontist will proceed to give a thorough examination of your child’s teeth. You may be asked to accompany your child to make him or her more comfortable, or to answer questions. To check for possible malocclusions, the orthodontist may ask your child to bite their teeth together, as well as ask questions like “does your child has difficulty swallowing or chewing or has ever heard of a clicking or popping sound from their jaws?’
If deemed necessary, the orthodontist may also take X-rays of your child’s mouth and teeth. This is to give them a better view of the positioning of your child’s teeth and how many permanent teeth still need to come in and where. Usually, after X-rays, the orthodontist will take a mold or impression of your child’s teeth. This is done using a tray of gooey material and by pressing it into the top and bottom teeth. This mold is used to make a replica of your child’s mouth, which will allow the orthodontist to better check for problems and make the necessary recommendations.
Afterward, the orthodontist will present to you the possible courses of treatment, their estimated costs, and the financing and payment options available.
If possible, don’t take your child to the orthodontist if your child has not had his first dental visit. Allow your child to become familiar with the dental office and the setting, to make the experience more comfortable for all parties involved.
Improving Your Child’s Self-Confidence
Problems with teeth often lead to low self-esteem and self-confidence later in life. This is why it’s best to tackle problems with malocclusions early on. Not only are the problems easier to fix (and generally cheaper), but you also pave the way for your child to have a healthy, beautiful-looking smile well before his or her self-consciousness peaks during the teenage years.
Remember, today’s braces are different. They have improved a lot since your days as a teenager. They are now more comfortable to wear and attractive. Treatment time is also significantly shorter.
Give your child the benefit of smiling confidently well into his or her adult years by taking him to the orthodontist today.