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Is it too early to see an orthodontist?

January 21, 2022
Is it too early to see an orthodontist?

Most people tend to associate orthodontic treatment with teenagers, so you may find it surprising to learn that Orthodontics Australia recommend children between the ages of 7-10 years visit a specialist orthodontist for an assessment. An early trip to the orthodontist can help diagnose, treat and even prevent a number of oral issues you may not be aware of, so early evaluation is always a good idea.

Is it too early to see an orthodontist?  

In short, no. Taking your child to see a specialist orthodontist before they reach a double-digit age is a great opportunity to check if there are any problems present and talk you through the best course of action to put your mind at ease.

We recommend that children should visit an orthodontist between the ages of 7-10 years. However, no age is too early if your child is currently showing signs of orthodontic issues such as crowded teeth, a jaw that protrudes or seem recessed, bite issues, or if they’ve lost teeth earlier than expected.

Not only will an appointment resolve questions around what to do, when to do it and any costs involved, it will also help to prepare your child if treatment is necessary – it’s much better to have years to plan than a few months.

Why should your child see an orthodontist before age ten? 

As mentioned above, we recommend that you take your child for their first orthodontic evaluation when they are between 7-10 years old. By this age, most children will have a mix of adult and baby teeth, which will help the orthodontist to determine if there are any developing problems.

Even if your child’s teeth appear straight now, that doesn’t mean there won’t be issues in the future, such as crowding, or bite issues as the jaws develop. Starting the process early doesn’t mean a child will get braces right away. It just means the orthodontist will be able to diagnose potential problems and recommend the best time to start treatment.

In many cases, monitoring and periodic observation is most appropriate. In some cases, an orthodontist may recommend a course of treatment to begin one to five years after the initial evaluation, but in carefully diagnosed cases interceptive treatment may be beneficial in order to intercept developing orthodontic problems.

What are the benefits of early assessment?   

Early orthodontic treatment is a great way to spot any problems within your child’s developing mouth and treat them before they turn into lifelong problems. And sometimes, catching these problems early on in life will save your child from potential surgery and complications in the future. Early treatment could also accomplish results that aren’t possible once the face and jaws have stopped growing. Here are some of the potential benefits: 

Easier treatment 

One of the main benefits of having treatment done early is that it’s often easier. Orthodontic treatment requires the teeth to shift, which can be a hard adjustment on the mouth. When a person is younger, the bones are more pliable, meaning corrective procedures work faster and more effectively than they do for teens and adults.  

Guide adult teeth 

Some children lose their teeth early in life. This may make it a challenge for their permanent teeth to come in straight and even. However, early orthodontic intervention can give your child an increased chance of having their permanent teeth come through straight. This is because the orthodontist can guide them into their correct places as they come through. 

Fix bite issues 

Usually bite issues – like overbites, underbites or crossbites – can be identified at a young age, which allows for an opportunity to fix them before the bite problem becomes too severe.

Identify problems 

Having early orthodontic assessment can help detect habits like thumb sucking or teeth grinding. Once you know about them, you can begin to correct them while your child is still young. Early identification of these behaviours can lessen the impact on your child’s teeth and jaw development. 

What are the different phases of orthodontic treatment? 

There are three phases of orthodontic treatment – early, general treatment and adult treatment.

Early orthodontic treatment is often referred to as ‘phase one’, as it’s usually followed by further treatment when your child is older. Early treatment can address some of the more serious bite-related problems.

General treatment occurs after a child’s full set of adult teeth have formed – usually after the age of 12. This is when they are most responsive to manipulation through orthodontic treatment.

Braces are not limited to children or teenagers – adults are also able to receive orthodontic treatment. Besides improving your appearance, adult orthodontics can also help you maintain the health of your teeth and gums. Adults usually get braces to prevent uneven tooth wear or redistribute spaces between teeth to accommodate dental implants.

We know you want your children to have healthy, beautiful smiles throughout their lives. And the key to this is early treatment and prevention with an experienced, qualified orthodontist.

Find a registered specialist orthodontist in your area via our online tool

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  • chris says:

    Hi, there’s an orthodontist in Denmark WA and it’s not listed, why?

    • Orthodontics Australia says:

      Hi Chris,

      The Orthodontics Australia Finder Tool only displayed registered specialist orthodontists who are current members of the Australian Society of Orthodontics. The orthodontist you’re thinking of may not be a member, or they may be another type of dental practitioner offering orthodontic services.

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