When to see an Orthodontist
Many parents want to know the best age to take their child to the orthodontist, often because it’s a topic of conversation among parents or their children in the schoolyard, or because they want to be able to prepare for the cost of orthodontic treatment in the future. Orthodontics Australia recommend children between the ages of 7-10 years visit a specialist orthodontist for an assessment, no referral from a dentist is needed.
It’s natural to want your child to have a beautiful smile (and the confidence that comes with it!) as soon as possible, but in reality there is no one ‘best’ age to undergo orthodontic treatment. It varies from child to child, and depends on the issue that’s being treated.
However, one thing that can be said for certain is that an early orthodontic evaluation is always a good idea. It allows the orthodontist to check if there are any problems present, and talk you through the best course of action to put you and your child’s minds at ease.
What are the signs my child should have an early orthodontic evaluation?
Every child can benefit from an early orthodontic evaluation, however, there are a couple of signs that would suggest your child in particular could benefit from a visit to the orthodontist.
The things to look out for are:
- Losing baby teeth prematurely due to cavities (decay) or trauma
- Snoring or breathing through the mouth
- Teeth that don’t meet properly when your child bites together
- Protruding and/or overcrowded teeth
- Difficulties with biting or chewing
- Thumb sucking
- A family history of impacted or missing teeth
At what age should I bring my child for their first orthodontic evaluation?
We would 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 such as misalignment of the jaws, crowding, or overbites.
As a parent, it can be difficult to tell whether your child will benefit from early orthodontic treatment. However, orthodontists have the specialist training to know when and how it is appropriate to treat, when to wait and when no treatment is required.
In some cases the orthodontist may recommend a course of treatment to begin one to five years after the initial evaluation, but in others cases there may be early measures the orthodontist can take to intercept developing problems.
If you think your child could benefit from visiting a specialist, a referral from your general dentist is not required. You can find your nearest orthodontist on our website.
What are the benefits of early 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. Appropriate early orthodontic appliances can help to make space in the mouth for remaining adult teeth to come through in the proper place.
Early treatment may also help to prevent physical and emotional trauma that may result from poorly positioned front teeth. As well as being the subject of schoolyard teasing, misaligned teeth are also prone to injury – particularly while playing sports – and may prevent good oral hygiene.
While there is no one ‘best’ age at which a child should receive orthodontic treatment, what’s important is that they see a specialist who can either rule out the need for treatment early, or recommend the best course of action. Orthodontists are the most qualified and experienced clinicians who can manage all tooth and jaw alignment problems. Orthodontists can determine the best time to treat a specific orthodontic problem, whether it be as a child, teenager or adult. With the guidance of a specialist orthodontist, your child’s teeth and smile will be in safe hands!
To find out more about orthodontic treatment for children, take a look at our Kids and Orthodontics eBook.
NB: Treatment in adults
It’s important to remember that adults can also undergo orthodontic treatment, and there is no such thing as being ‘too old’ to get the smile you deserve. In fact, there are plenty of orthodontic treatments that are specifically aimed at adult patients.
If you’d like to find out more about adult orthodontics, find your local orthodontist and book a consultation today! No referral needed.