Thursday, October 1, 2009

What's the Best Age for an Orthodontic Consult?

Many parents often ask, when should my child be seen by an orthodontist? The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children by the age of 7 years old should have an orthodontic evaluation. There are certain types of problems that may be addressed before all the permanent teeth have erupted. There are definte advantages to correcting these problems early; however, visiting an orthodontist does not necessarily mean that treatment may begin!

Here is a list of some typical problems that may need to be addressed and why.

  1. Moving front teeth back to prevent injury.
  2. Improving and guiding the growth and development of the upper and lower jaws.
  3. Minimizing and preventing the removal of permanent teeth.
  4. Intervening to possibly avoid later involved treatment.
  5. Improving a child's facial appearance and speech development.
  6. Taking advantage of good cooperation at an early age.

These are just a few of the things that orthodontists typically look for when seeing a child at an early age. Getting to know a patient early can definitely help in establishing a healthy and beautiful smile because this is ultimately a team effort that involves the patient, the family dentist and the orthodontist.

Why go to an orthodontist? An orthodontist is a dentist who has spent 2 to 3 years in a specialty residency program focused on tooth movement, facial development and how teeth fit together to provide optimal function and esthetics. For example: if you had a heart condition , you would not see your general physician, you would see a cardiologist. Just the same, if you needed your teeth straight or your bite fixed, you would go to an orthodontist.