Making decisions for your children’s best interests is not easy – especially when it comes to their healthcare. Orthodontic treatment is no different. While most parents begin planning for their children to get braces early in life, it is a common misconception that they should wait until they enter their teenage years to visit an orthodontist. But if you shouldn’t wait until then to set up their first appointment, when should you?
The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) says that seven is the best age for a first orthodontic appointment, but the reasoning behind this advice is complex. Let’s dig into the details.
Orthodontic Treatment at Age Seven
Early intervention is the key to tackling most medical problems. Early orthodontic treatment is the main avenue to nip complex dental issues in the bud, from overcrowded mouths to jaw pain, before they take root. According to the AAO, by age seven, your child’s jaw has developed just enough that an orthodontist can begin tracking dental issues that may cause problems in the future. That means it is a perfect time to get started on their smile journey.
Determining the Need for Braces
While most children don’t receive braces until they are between the ages of eight and fourteen, their jaws are almost entirely developed by age seven. At this time, they are ready for a beginning look at how their mouths might react to orthodontic treatment.
Not all seven-year-olds require braces, but age seven is the perfect time to begin treatment for some more complex dental problems. Some of these problems include extreme crowding, excessively spaced teeth, or thumb-sucking that has changed the growth of the jaw. Sometimes a parent may recognize obvious orthodontic issues, but for the most part, it takes a trained orthodontist to judge whether or not they are developing a more severe condition.
When a teenager visits our office for the first time, we often sense a lot of anxiety. New patients who haven’t been exposed to the orthodontic practice may tense up at the thought of having new appliances in their mouths, no matter how excited they are for a new smile. A lot of the time, that fear keeps patients out of the orthodontic chair. Because the team at Shiney Smiles wants you to feel confident in your smile, it would be a shame to let fear stop your child from looking and feeling their best!
The best way to combat that fear is to introduce your child to their orthodontist at a young age. Young children are much more likely to embrace a new environment with ease. That comfort will translate into a better braces experience for you and your child.
When patients get a headstart on their treatment plan at the age of seven, orthodontists have a better chance of preventing current dental issues from developing into more complex and costly problems in the future. The ability to track your child’s teeth as they shift into more permanent positions helps the orthodontist create a treatment plan to solve issues before they begin.
There are some dental issues that only an orthodontist can detect. Orthodontists are trained in facial development and jaw structure. Because a seven-year-old’s jaw is still growing, your orthodontist can redirect jaw growth naturally using the skills and training at their disposal. This natural redirection produces a long-term smile that is more reliable and cost-effective overall.
It is no secret that orthodontic treatment can be pricey – even if Shiney Smiles has a range of affordable treatment plans to help you cover the cost! Pricing tends to increase depending on the severity of the condition and the length of time required to adjust your child’s teeth. Hand-in-hand with preventative treatment, the expense of braces can be reduced with early intervention at age seven. Because your orthodontist is helping to adjust your child’s teeth over an extended period, they are more likely to prevent bad issues from becoming worse by keeping the cost of braces at a minimum.
Does a dental visit work the same?
While all orthodontists are dentists, not all dentists are orthodontists. Both professionals attend dental school and are required to complete a dental certification program. Still, to become an orthodontist, individuals must take their training a step or two farther. After graduating from dental school, orthodontists go through an additional two to three years of residency.
Even though your child regularly visits their dentist by the age of seven, that does not mean their orthodontic needs are being met during those visits. Proper orthodontic care requires the expertise of a trained orthodontist who has specialized in the development of facial bone structure. If you only take your child to the dentist until they are in middle school, you won’t receive all of the benefits of early intervention outlined above.
Dentists are the most capable professionals to teach your child how to care for their teeth and maintain the health of their smiles. Orthodontists are the place to turn for alignment and structure concerns.
Consult an Orthodontist at Any Age
Shiney Smiles Orthodontics recommends that children visit us for their first orthodontic appointment by the age of seven, but you should feel comfortable checking in with us with any concerns you might have. We encourage you to trust your gut when it comes to orthodontic issues. If your child is experiencing pain or discomfort when chewing or speaking, or if they are breathing through their mouth more often than not, bring them in for a free consultation so that our team can form a plan to ease their discomfort no matter their age.
Confident Smiles are Our Passion
As a parent, you want the absolute best for your child, especially when it comes to the source of their happiness – their smile. At Shiney Smiles Orthodontics, we know these decisions can be tricky. Shiny Smiles Orthodontics has years of experience helping patients of all ages gain confidence in their grins – so be sure to call to schedule a free consultation today!