At What Should My Child See An Orthodontist?

Indications for early or interventional orthodontic treatment in kids.

“Straight Talk: When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?”

Live Life Confidently!
A confident smile is a valuable asset, and ensuring your child’s dental health is an essential part of their overall well-being. One key aspect of maintaining a healthy smile is orthodontic care. But when is the right time to take your child to see an orthodontist? Your Board-Certified Orthodontist in Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick Orthodontist, Dr. Steven Bunker, will explore the factors that indicate it might be time for that crucial first visit.

  1. Age and Development:
    Dr. Steven Bunker and The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommend that children have their first orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. By this age, most children have a mix of baby and permanent teeth, allowing orthodontists to identify any emerging issues with jaw growth and tooth development.
  2. Early Warning Signs:
    Keep an eye out for early signs that might suggest orthodontic intervention is needed. These signs include difficulty chewing or biting, mouth breathing, thumb-sucking beyond the age of 5, crowded or misplaced teeth, and visible shifts in the jaw or bite.
  3. Genetics and Family History:
    If you or your partner had orthodontic treatment, there’s a higher likelihood that your child may need it too. Genetics plays a significant role in dental development, and a family history of issues like overcrowded or misaligned teeth may indicate a potential need for orthodontic care.
  4. Speech Difficulties:
    Problems with speech, such as difficulty pronouncing certain sounds, may be indicative of orthodontic issues. If you notice persistent speech difficulties in your child, it’s worth consulting with an orthodontist to assess whether dental misalignments might be contributing to the problem.
  5. Proactive Intervention:
    Early orthodontic intervention can often prevent more severe problems later on. Some orthodontic issues are easier to correct when addressed during a child’s growth and development phase. By identifying and treating problems early, orthodontists can guide the growth of the jaw and the eruption of permanent teeth, reducing the need for extensive corrective measures in the future.
  6. Eruption of Permanent Teeth:
    The eruption of permanent teeth is a crucial phase in a child’s dental development. An orthodontic evaluation around the age of 7 allows the orthodontist to assess how the permanent teeth are coming in and identify any issues that may require attention.

The right time for your child to see an orthodontist is often earlier than you might think. By scheduling that first visit around the age of 7 or earlier if you notice any warning signs, you give your child the best chance at a healthy and confident smile. Early intervention can make orthodontic treatment more straightforward and, in some cases, even prevent more serious issues from developing. Don’t wait until adolescence to think about braces; take a proactive approach to your child’s dental health for a lifetime of smiles.

Dr. Steven Bunker is a Board-Certified Orthodontist in Tri-Cities Washington serving Richland, Pasco, Kennewick, West Richland and the surrounding areas of Prosser, Grandview, Benton City, Mesa, Connell, Finley, Umatilla, and Hermiston.

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