When should I bring my child to an orthodontist for the first time?
Many parents wonder when the best time is to take their child to see an orthodontist. After all, your children are probably already seeing your family dentist on a regular basis. An orthodontist is a dentist who has an additional 3 years of training and specialises in assessing jaw growth and development in addition to straightening crooked teeth. A visit to the orthodontist may be prompted by concerns about the appearance of your children’s teeth, or you may be wondering if they’ll need braces eventually. Perhaps you’d like to know if there is anything you can do now to avoid the need for removal of adult teeth or make braces treatment quicker and simpler in the future. Your specialist orthodontist can address all these queries at your initial consultation.
In the past, most of us would not have seen an orthodontist until we were well into our teenage years with all our adult teeth in place. Most orthodontists now agree that the ideal age for a child’s first orthodontic consultation is between the ages of 7- 10 years old. At this age the front and back adult teeth (the six year-old molars and the incisors) have erupted and your experienced orthodontist can detect at this early age whether it is likely that your child will have a problem with their bite and if there is going to be enough space for all of their adult teeth.
Don’t be concerned if your child is over 10 years old though – you haven’t missed the boat. Your specialist orthodontist can provide a treatment solution for all problems at any age – adults included.
What problems should I look out for?
Some problems that particularly warrant an orthodontic assessment include:
- Early loss of baby teeth due to decay or trauma
- Thumb sucking after the age of 5
- Very crowded teeth
- Upper front teeth that protrude excessively
- Lower teeth biting in front of the upper teeth (underbite)
- Problems with chewing or talking
- Snoring or breathing through their mouth
- A family history of missing or impacted teeth
What are the benefits of seeing an orthodontist whilst my child is so young?
There are more treatment options available
By the time most of us reach our mid-teens, the jaw bones have hardened and reached their final size. When your child is young the jaw bones are still developing, and their size and position may be manipulated. It is possible to widen a narrow upper jaw in a growing child or encourage growth of the upper or lower jaw to help minimise overbites or underbites. Treatment done whilst there are still baby teeth in place is known as “phase 1“or “early” treatment. The aim of phase 1 treatment is to correct a specific issue now in order to make any future orthodontic treatments more straightforward. It can be viewed as getting the teeth “back on track” to ideal development.
We know that orthodontic treatment is a big financial investment and many families like to know ahead of time so they can set some money aside. You’ll be able to get an idea of the cost of any future treatment at your initial consultation so there are no surprises in store later. You may also want to consider whether to take out or upgrade your health insurance. This is a personal decision for each family, but it is important to check the policy details as many funds impose a 12-month waiting period before you can claim on any orthodontic treatment.
Whilst many 7 to 10-year olds don’t give their teeth a second thought, some children can become acutely self-conscious about their teeth even at this young age. If your child worries about the appearance of their teeth or is being teased about their teeth – we can help. It’s amazing how the self-confidence of children elevates as soon as they start treatment, because they are now doing something to fix the problem.
If your child isn’t ready for orthodontic treatment yet we will monitor them on a regular basis. This is in addition to them continuing to see your family dentist for general check-ups and cleans. This way, when they are ready for treatment we can start at the ideal stage of growth and dental development and fit this into your schedule to accommodate school, work and social commitments.
If you think your child would benefit from an orthodontic consultation, or you are interested in treatment for your teenager or yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact us online here or by phone on 9687 8243 to schedule a consultation with our specialist orthodontist.