During the initial six years of our lives, it’s difficult to tell if there will be future dental concerns in most cases. As we get older and the majority of our primary teeth have arrived, it becomes possible to identify them and take action. This is why early orthodontic visits are so crucial for your growing child. During these focused visits, their oral cavity will be inspected for signs of malocclusion or misalignment, and a plan will be developed to address it.
Your Child’s First Orthodontic Appointment
When your child reaches seven years of age, the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) advises that they have their first orthodontic visit. Starting orthodontic visits this early means your dentist can act on any identified concerns. When care is called for, it’s generally in the form of a two-stage treatment process. The first stage is called Early Orthodontic Treatment or Phase I Treatment.
Phase I is started with young children who retain some of their primary teeth, which has the ability to prevent growth that is either improper or out of alignment. What specific treatments are used will depend on the concerns that your dentist identifies. In the majority of cases, the selected approach will be one of the following:
- Retainer – To ensure that teeth remain in their intended position
- Palatal Expanders – To expand the palate to make room for all teeth
- Partial Braces – To correct specific teeth to prevent additional problems
Early orthodontic treatment is the right approach if your dentist identifies one of the various oral health concerns. These often take the form of dental alignment or jaw issues that become more prominent after permanent teeth erupt. The following are typical examples of these:
- Bite complications
- Protruding teeth
- Narrow jaw
Not every child is going to require early orthodontic treatment. Most young patients will develop normally without any concerns that need to be adjusted. Those that do have orthodontic concerns often don’t need phase I treatment. Instead, their treatment can be postponed until their oral cavity develops further. At that point, Phase II treatment can be performed. This phase of treatment includes your standard orthodontic care, such as braces, clear aligners, and other approaches.
Getting your child in to see the orthodontist for these early checkups can help prevent future concerns. By taking this step, you are improving the odds of your child developing a healthy and properly aligned smile. Addressing these concerns later requires treatments that take longer to complete and are often more expensive.
Speak To Your Dentist About Early Orthodontic Exams
Coordinating with your dental provider is the most critical thing you do to promote lasting oral health in your children. Getting them involved early and working closely with them can address any developing concerns your child may be experiencing promptly. Contact your dental provider to schedule your child’s first orthodontic care visit today. Even if they’re past seven years of age, if their adult smile hasn’t finished developing, they may benefit by getting started today.