Guest Blogger, Dr. Updike from Updike Orthodontics
While the most common image of someone in braces is a teenager, children should actually see an orthodontist much earlier than their teen years.
When you picture someone in an orthodontist’s chair, do you picture a teenager, getting his or her braces adjusted? While the image of a teenager with a mouth full of metal is commonplace, children should actually visit an orthodontist for the first time right around the seventh birthday.
“The American Association of Orthodontists recommends seven as the ideal time for children to have their first consultation with an orthodontist,” says Irvine orthodontist Dr. Sophia Updike. “Parents might think this seems young, but it’s actually the ideal time for us to observe what is currently happening in the mouth, and what will happen as the child grows. Then, we can determine if any interventive treatment is needed, and begin at precisely the correct time to have the most impact.”
Orthodontists work to ensure that your child’s smile is not just beautifully straight, but will function properly, too. The goal of orthodontic treatment is to ensure teeth are straight and jaws are properly aligned, and the earlier an orthodontist can begin to observe what is happening in your child’s mouth, the better.
“The baby teeth lay the groundwork for the permanent teeth,” says Dr. Updike. “Seven is the ideal time for us to get a picture of what is happening in your child’s mouth. We can make sure the baby teeth are falling out the way they should, and check to be sure there is adequate room for the permanent teeth to erupt properly.”
But more than that, an orthodontist can determine if there are any underlying issues that could pose a potential problem. The teeth may look straight to you, but there may be problems that could worsen as the child gets older. Deep bites, open bites, crossbites, crowding and spacing issues and other problems can be more easily corrected while the child’s jaw is still growing.
By the time your child turns seven, he or she will most likely have enough of a mix between permanent and baby teeth to evaluate and ensure everything is developing as it should. Parents should not wait until all permanent teeth have erupted to schedule the first orthodontic consultation. There are also some habits and other indicators that parents should be on the lookout for, including:
- Baby teeth fall out too early or too late
- Problems chewing or biting
- Sucks thumb or uses pacifier for extended time period
- Problems speaking
- Grinds or clenches teeth
- Teeth look crowded or misplaced
If you are from Irvine, Tustin, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Orange County, Lake Forest, CA areas and your child is seven or older and has not had a consultation with an orthodontist yet, call Updike Orthodontics today at 949-870-9713. Dr. Updike works with patients of all ages and can help parents determine the right time to begin treatment to ensure a beautiful, healthy smile that will last a lifetime.