When’s The Best Time for Your Child’s First Orthodontic Visit?
When’s The Best Time for Your Child’s First Orthodontic Visit?
If the Tooth Fairy has been making more frequent visits to your house, then it’s probably time to think about your child’s first orthodontic appointment. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that a child should visit an orthodontist for an evaluation at age 7. Typically by this age, the permanent front teeth and first molars are coming in and the “bite” is becoming established.
Only a very few children will need to start any orthodontic treatment at this early age, but a Board Certified Orthodontist like Dr. Jon Hullings can identify any issues with the bite, the jaws or permanent tooth eruption that need to be addressed. At the first visit, Dr. Hullings will evaluate concerns such as crowding, large spacing, facial growth and any problematic oral habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting. He will be able to determine if early orthodontic treatment is recommended to address any of these concerns.
If treatment is not indicated at this early age, Dr. Hullings can carefully monitor growth and development and recommend treatment if and when the time is right. Regular evaluation appointments during these developmental years are important so that any problems can be identified and treated at the ideal time to get the best possible results. This observation service is complimentary, and the appointments are quick and easy.
Benefits of Early Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment:
- Create room for crowded, erupting teeth to help avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions in the future
- Improve the eruption paths for teeth that are not coming in normal positions
- Improve facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
- Reduce the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
- Preserve space for unerupted teeth
- Reduce the time in full braces in the future
- Improve the appearance of the smile, increasing self-esteem
Your child’s first visit to the orthodontist is an important milestone in his or her developmental years. Whether your child falls into the observational, watch and wait group, or early interceptive treatment is recommended, this first visit will put your child on the path to a healthy smile for life.
There’s no need for a referral, so contact our office to schedule a complimentary evaluation for your child. Dr. Hullings has been creating beautiful smiles for our Wichita neighbors since 1990. We love seeing familiar smiles around town, and nothing pleases us more than to be treating the second generation of our original patient family.
We look forward to meeting you!
7 Reasons Your Child Should See an Orthodontist by Age 7
When should a child see an orthodontist? The American Association of Orthodontists recommends kids have their first orthodontic screening when you notice signs of an orthodontic problem or, you guessed it, by age 7. A referral from your dentist can help with specific concerns, but a referral isn’t necessary.
Most of the time, when your kiddo first visits Dr. Jon Hullings, he’ll examine the bite, jaws and teeth, and chat with you both about what he sees, marking the beginning of an observational period. You’ll come back about every six months so he can keep an eye on any concerns he had at your initial examination and let you know when it’s time for your child to start treatment. This observation service is complimentary, and the appointments will be quick and easy.
Every so often, if an issue is spotted, visiting an orthodontist by age 7 ensures that we’re able to step in early during a child’s active growth. At this point, we can much more easily guide the development of the teeth and jaws to prevent more complex orthodontic issues down the road. This early interceptive treatment generally addresses severe crowding or jaw concerns and consists of wearing an appliance or limited braces for about year or so. Interceptive treatment is followed by a resting period where we will continue to monitor dental development. Then, in a second phase of treatment, your child will typically go through the normal course of braces.
Whether your child falls into the observational, watch & wait group, or they need interceptive orthodontic treatment, these early visits will put them on the path to a healthy smile for life.
Here are 7 reasons to see an orthodontist at age 7:
1. We can identify extra or missing teeth
The first orthodontic visit includes an exam by Dr. Hullings with photos and digital x-rays. He will identify issues like extra or missing teeth at this early stage when we can take action to keep your child’s oral development on track. When a child is actively growing and still has baby teeth, it’s easier to use appliances like a space maintainer, retainer or braces to allow the permanent teeth to erupt where they’re supposed to. In other instances, a panoramic x-ray may reveal an extra tooth or two. These are called supernumerary teeth. They are commonly found blocking permanent front teeth from erupting or causing alignment issues. In this situation, early interceptive treatment may be needed to correct the problem.
2. Correct harmful habits
Your child’s first orthodontic visit is a great time to ask about potentially harmful oral habits like finger and thumb sucking, teeth grinding, tongue thrusting and/or mouth breathing. We can offer guidance on stopping these habits before they cause irreversible damage. For example, finger and thumb sucking have been associated with narrowing of the jaws and crossbite, while tongue thrusting has been linked to an open bite and premature wear of the back teeth. The longer the habit continues, the worse the bite can get. We can give you advice for different behavioral techniques you can use and, if all else fails, there are really effective habit-breaking appliances that physically block the behavior.
3. Guide tooth eruption
When we take a panoramic x-ray, we can see your child’s unerupted teeth and their positions below the gum line. If it appears that teeth don’t have room to come in at all, or they’ll come in at odd angles or in the wrong place, a proper treatment plan can create the right environment to aid in their eruption. This can have a significant positive impact on future treatment and overall results. When enough space is created, there is a high chance that we can avoid extraction of permanent teeth. And typically the time spent in full braces to detail the alignment and fit if the permanent teeth down the road is significantly shorter than if we wait.
4. Correct jaw growth problems
If you’re wondering how old is too old to see an orthodontist, the answer is it’s never too late to achieve a smile you love. We can successfully straighten your teeth at any age. That being said, when it comes to correcting issues with the jaw, there’s a huge advantage to early intervention. When you’re an adult who is done growing, and you have a severe jaw size imbalance, options become more limited and surgery may be required to address your bite concerns. Bites like underbites are especially important to have evaluated and treated early. Interceptive orthodontic treatment can guide the growth of the jaw while it’s still developing because jaws are more easily manipulated, helping children to avoid surgery or complicated treatment as a grown-up. We can use a number of appliances to correct problems or imbalances with jaw growth in order to fit all of the permanent teeth and relate the upper and lower jaw to each other. This brings about lasting, dramatic results.
5. Make room for crowded teeth
Crowded teeth can be due to jaw size, tooth size or the early loss of baby teeth. When a baby tooth comes out too early, the adjacent teeth will shift to fill in the space. This can block the permanent tooth from erupting properly and cause severe crowding. Depending on the severity of crowding, it might be appropriate to just watch and wait, but sometimes it’s important to use appliances to hold space or regain space, or expand the jaws. That way, when the permanent teeth are ready to come in naturally, they’ll have room and your child’s orthodontic treatment in their teen years will be straightforward and faster.
6. Boost self-esteem
Excessive spacing, an imbalance in the jaw which causes an overbite or underbite and/or crooked, crowded teeth can make a child feel self-conscious during their formative years. It doesn’t help that bullying is so prevalent in person and online. Studies have shown that teeth are frequently the targeted feature of bullying. While interceptive orthodontic treatment is most often used when there are functional or development issues, the cosmetic benefits are important too! When a kid likes his own smile and feels good about herself they get a huge boost of confidence that carries over into their school, activities and relationships for life.
7. Prevent damage and trauma to the teeth and gums
When the front teeth stick out too far, which is evident by age 7, we can take steps to decrease the protrusion and start to correct the overbite early on. Teeth that protrude are more susceptible to damage from trauma. Dental trauma has lifelong dental and financial ramifications and can involve root canals, crowns, bone grafting and implants. Furthermore, it is challenging to provide esthetics for broken or knocked out teeth. Other issues, like significant crowding, make teeth harder to clean and can lead to gum disease, even in children. If early interceptive treatment is needed, we can create a healthier oral environment and make teeth less prone to accidents.
If the tooth fairy has been making more frequent visits to your house, then it’s probably time to think about visiting an orthodontist. We offer free consultations at Hullings Orthodontics, and we’re happy to see children of any age. We’ve also had many parents that have been so pleased with the orthodontic changes they’ve seen in their kids, that they’ve decided to make appointments for themselves too! Dr. Hullings and his team are friendly, welcoming and knowledgeable. You and your child will feel at ease and informed every step of the way. Schedule a visit at our Wichita orthodontic office today and give your child the gift of a healthy, beautiful smile. No referral is necessary; simply call us at 316-636-1980.