When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

greensboro orthodontist“When should my child see an Orthodontist?”  Is a very common question we hear from parents in our dental office.  The answer is earlier than you might think and comes to a surprise to many families.  The American Association of Orthodontist (AAO) and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that:

All children see an orthodontist no later than ages 7. 

The reason it is recommended that all children see an orthodontist no later than ages 7 helps identify problems with a growing jaw and emerging teeth while there is an opportunity to intercept the problem.  By taking advantages of growth spurts and the partial bone development early treatment may help prevent more serious problems from developing.  In addition helping prevent more serious orthodontic problems early orthodontic treatment also:

  • Helps guide jaw growth
  • Lower the risk of tooth trauma
  • Correct harmful oral habits
  • Guide the permanent teeth into favorable positions
  • Improve the way the lips come together

The surprising fact is that most orthodontic treatment begins between the age of 9 and 14.  Parents are often mis-informed about the right time to see an orthodontist and are incorrectly lulled into a false since of security because their assessment of their children’s smile is that they  appear to have ”straight teeth”  or a “normal smile.”  However is not always easy to tell by looking at your child’s teeth if they have orthodontic problems.  Some helpful signs when evaluating your child include:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Thumb-sucking past the age of 4
  • Crowded or protruding teeth
  • Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
  • Upper and lower teeth that don’t meet in the front
  • Grinding of teeth

Remember that there is an ideal age for every patient to begin orthodontic treatment and unless your child is seen by an orthodontist before the age of 8, a window of ideal opportunity may be missed.

greensboro nc dentistToday’s post was written personally by Drs. David and Janna Civils. Do you have a question for either Dr. David or Dr. Janna?  We would love to hear from you!

Drs. David and Janna Civils

1114 Magnolia Street 
Greensboro, NC





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2 Responses to When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

  1. What if your child hasn’t lost all of their baby teeth? If the purpose of braces is to align the teeth, wouldn’t it be better to wait until all of their “adult” teeth have come in?

    • Dr. Civils says:

      Good question. It is true that braces are usually used to align permamant teeth. However, early evaluation and correctly timed treatment give the orthodontist an advantage. Early treatment allows the orthodontist to move the bone (i.e. expand the palate) in order to make space for the erupting permanent teeth and minimize jaw discrepancies (i.e. severe overbite) that are more difficult to correct at later age.

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