If you have a younger child, you’re probably already aware of the role regular dental visits play in keeping their smile happy and healthy. What you may not know is that early orthodontic evaluations are an important part of oral health, too! The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an evaluation with a qualified orthodontist by around the age of 7, but this is often confusing for parents. After all, most kids that age still have developing mouths and lots of Tooth Fairy visits left! That’s why we’re taking at look at why your child should see an orthodontist by age 7.
An early evaluation doesn’t automatically equal braces, though. Here at Shiney Smiles Orthodontics, we rarely recommend immediate orthodontic treatment for our young patients. The visits are still valuable, though because they give us the opportunity to assess a child for any present or developing orthodontic issues. By the age of 7, most kids will have their permanent front teeth, as well as the first set of adult molars, which are sometimes referred to as the “six year molars.” At this point, an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Sheinis should be able to identify how a child’s bite is likely to develop as they grow.
Panoramic x-rays can also give us a good look into their mouth! If there are any missing permanent teeth or deviations from the normal pattern of tooth eruption, it could signify the need for expert care. If you have a child around this age, you may wonder what an orthodontic consultation would look like. Let’s take a look at what you can expect from an initial consultation with Dr. Sheinis at our Huntington or Woodbury office!
What happens during an early orthodontic consultation?
When you schedule your child for a FREE consultation with us, Dr. Sheinis will assess their smile with digital photographs, x-rays, and an oral examination. He’ll be able to see if there are any issues present, giving us the chance to correct them before they have the chance to develop into something more serious. He’ll be looking for evidence of common orthodontic problems during the exam, including:
As the placeholders for our permanent teeth, baby teeth matter more than you may think. They also tend to fall out in a fairly specific order. If we notice any significant deviation from that pattern, it may signal a developmental issue requiring further attention.
By the time they’re 7 or so, most children will have at least four permanent molars and up to four permanent incisors. If your child has any more or less than this, it could indicate a problem with missing, crowding, or extra teeth.
Not only are crooked teeth more difficult to brush and floss effectively, they are also more prone to uneven wear and tear. Eventually, this can affect both the shape and position of the surrounding gum tissue.
Trouble with spacing can show up when a tooth is lost prematurely, where one has never developed, or with teeth that are too small or spaced apart.
Front teeth that noticeably protrude can be a cosmetic concern, but they may also increase the risk of potential injury to the permanent teeth, and have been known to cause speech issues as well.
Underbites can be caused by problems with either the teeth or jaws, and involves the lower jaw growing too far forward.
A posterior crossbite can cause crowding, and may also cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other to fit the top and bottom teeth together. A narrow upper jaw can be associated with a narrow nasal passage sometimes, too.
Anterior Open Bites and Deep Bites
These are bite problems that occur vertically. In bites that are too deep, the top teeth completely cover the bottom ones when biting, which can indicate a small lower jaw.
In an open bite, the overall bite doesn’t overlap enough.
What happens after an early orthodontic evaluation?
Being proactive rather than reactive has big benefits when it comes to a child’s smile! Seeing kids around 7 years old means that we’re able to get them the care they need when they need it most. We often refer to this type of intervention as Phase I treatment, and it helps us achieve the kind of results we may not be able to get if we wait until a child’s face and jaws have finished growing. We will generally use Phase I treatment to encourage jaw development that will:
- better accommodate all the permanent teeth
- improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together
- reduce the risk for damage due to crowding, misalignment, or malformed jaws
If your child is a good fit for Phase I treatment, Dr. Sheinis may choose an orthodontic appliance like braces or aligners for a period of time. This will help correct poor jaw growth, create some space for the developing teeth, and help the facial muscles develop normally. It can be done with one or both jaws. Once this phase is complete, any appliance we’re using will be removed and a period of observation will begin. Dr. Sheinis may recommend a retainer during this time to keep the teeth stable, and he will continue to monitor your child’s mouth every 4-6 months.
Most Phase I patients will eventually need Phase II treatment, and this will often require another round of braces or aligners to continue the stabilizing process and completely move the teeth into the desired positions. This will finalize the bite correction and create a beautifully aligned and fully functional smile for your child!
Give your child’s smile the best start with Shiney Smiles Orthodontics
There’s no dental referral necessary to schedule an orthodontic consultation, and since we offer ours at no cost to you, you have nothing to lose by bringing your child in for an early evaluation! If no immediate care is necessary, you’ll be invited back to our office every 6-12 months so that Dr. Sheinis can continue to monitor your child’s smile. Keeping up with their dental development in this way will allow us to catch any emerging problems and treat them if necessary.
If you’re in Huntington, Woodbury, or the surrounding communities and have a child ready for their first orthodontic appointment, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch today to schedule your FREE virtual or in-office consultation with Dr. Sheinis, and take the first step towards your child’s best smile!