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When Should a Child First See an Orthodontist?

When your child starts losing baby teeth and sprouting that adorable gap-toothed smile, you might start wondering when to take your child to the orthodontist. Permanent adult teeth may grow in crooked or rotated, and they may crowd a small, growing mouth.

Some parents assume that their child doesn’t need orthodontic care until they have all of their permanent teeth. But when should a child first see an orthodontist? The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children get a checkup no later than age 7.

Why Visit the Orthodontist at Age 7?

Age 7 may seem early for orthodontic care—most kids don’t get braces until their preteen or teen years—but there are clear benefits to taking your child to the orthodontist at the recommended age, even if your child still has some baby teeth left to lose.

Early check-ups can give orthodontists a chance to examine jaw growth and how the permanent teeth are coming in. Parents may miss problems such as mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, or problems with the bite or jaw growth. Some issues are easier and quicker to treat if caught early, even while the child is still leaving teeth under their pillow for the tooth fairy.

At around age 7, most children have at least some permanent teeth, plus the first set of adult molars. Both of these dental milestones mean that an orthodontist can predict how a child’s bite is likely to develop and, through X-ray, identify any missing adult teeth. The exam will also identify any current or potential issues with crowding. An orthodontic evaluation of how the teeth are coming in can identify problems that need treatment now and give you a good idea of what to expect in terms of braces or other future orthodontic treatment.

What to Expect at the First Orthodontist Visit

When you take your child to the orthodontist, their teeth will be examined and perhaps X-rayed, not unlike a visit to the dentist’s office. The orthodontist may say that everything is developing normally and send you on your way. Or, the orthodontist may spot a potential concern that needs to be monitored with follow-up appointments over the next few years. Some problems may even need to begin treatment right away. Whatever the outcome, your orthodontist will communicate with you and create a plan to make sure any issues are treated in a timely manner.

Is your child nearing age 7? Even if they still have baby teeth, it’s time to see the orthodontist! Give us a call today to schedule your appointment with Dr. Kendra Pratt in The Woodlands, TX.

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