No doubt, you’re familiar with braces or clear aligners on pre-teens and teens — maybe you even had them yourself at that age! But what about orthodontics for younger kids? You might be surprised to know that orthodontics can start even earlier than the double-digits, giving kids a head start on a straight, functional, and healthy smile.
When Should My Child See an Orthodontist for the First Time?
As the title of this post says, a first orthodontic visit should happen around age seven. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends age seven because kids have enough adult teeth by then, allowing an orthodontist to spot any issues before they become bigger problems. If your child is already a dental care patient with Dr. Parker, we at The Beach House Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics make a first orthodontic visit easy: we also offer orthodontics for kids under the same roof. Dr. Shadow Asgari is the “orthodontics” in “The Beach House Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics” and you’ll find we offer seamless, coordinated care at our Missouri City, TX office.
What Happens at a First Orthodontic Visit?
A team member at The Beach House will take digital photos and x-rays, though we might have current ones already if your kiddo has recently had them taken with our pediatric dentist, Dr. Parker. As a high tech practice, we might also take digital scans for a precise, digital 3D model of their teeth, bite, and oral structures. Dr. Shadow will look at these diagnostic records and examine your child’s teeth. We’ll chat about our findings, talk about Phase 1 orthodontic treatment if needed, and answer your questions.
Now, if Dr. Shadow doesn’t see any issues to address immediately, we’ll check in on your child’s oral development as they grow and recommend orthodontics if/when the time is right.
Reasons To Schedule An Early Orthodontic Consultation
Signs to schedule an early orthodontic visit? Apart from your child reaching the age of seven, consider these 10 issues as reasons to schedule an orthodontic consultation for your little one:
1. Crowded Teeth
Crowded teeth in kids who have a mix of adult and baby teeth can be a sign that their jaw isn’t large enough to accommodate their adult teeth and might continue to be too small as more adult teeth erupt. A palatal expander opens up the upper dental arch to provide more room for teeth. Well-spaced teeth also contribute to maintaining a cavity-free smile!
2. Really Spaced Out Teeth or Big Gaps
Large gaps, like spaces left when a baby tooth has fallen out prematurely and the adult tooth isn’t ready to erupt yet, can cause the teeth around the gap to start shifting to fill it. A space maintainer is sometimes recommended for young kids to keep the space open for an incoming adult tooth, giving it a clear path to erupt properly when the time comes.
3. Prolonged Infant Oral Habits
Prolong infant habits that continue into the elementary school years can contribute to crooked teeth and improper jaw growth. If your child is still sucking their thumb or pacifier, or continuing with tongue thrust, Dr. Shadow might recommend a habit-breaking appliance to help your child say goodbye to these smile-damaging habits.
4. Mouth Breathing
If your child mouth breathes only when they’re sick, you likely don’t have to worry. But persistent mouth breathing can be concerning and we suggest a visit with your pediatric orthodontist in Missouri City to find out if your kid’s mouth breathing is affecting their oral development.
5. Jaw Misalignment Like Underbites, Crossbites or Open Bites
Early treatment for misaligned jaws can help make braces or Invisalign during the teen years a much easier and comfortable experience. Not to mention help your child with better oral functioning.
6. Speech Difficulties
Does your child have trouble pronouncing certain sounds, even though they’re past the toddler years? Speech difficulties in children are sometimes due to orthodontic issues; the teeth, lips, and jaws can be so improperly positioned that it interferes with the tongue’s natural movements during speaking.
7. Difficulties with Chewing or Biting Food
Difficulties with chewing or biting can be because of misaligned teeth. Bite problems like an overbite, underbite, open bite, deep bite, or crossbite can prevent a child’s teeth from coming together comfortably and make it difficult to chew and bite food effectively.
8. Clenching or Grinding Their Teeth
Teeth grinding or jaw clenching when asleep can damage teeth and cause pain in the jaw joints (TMJ), face, and neck if it persists long-term. Also called bruxism, this habit can wear down your child’s tooth enamel and even fracture some teeth. An early first orthodontic visit can identify bruxism’s underlying orthodontic causes and prevent future problems.
Getting A Healthy, Functional Smile With Your Pediatric Orthodontist in Missouri City
So there you have it, ten reasons to schedule an early orthodontic consultation. Give us a shout at The Beach House Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics to set up an orthodontic appointment with Dr. Shadow — get started on the best health and development for your little one’s growing smile. We provide high quality dental and orthodontic care in a fun and stress free environment!