You may think that your child doesn’t need to see an orthodontist when they’re grade-school age — often, even before they’ve lost all their baby teeth. But seeking the opinion of a qualified orthodontist can prepare you for orthodontic work that your child may need.
In some cases, children only need an evaluation around age 7. But in other cases, orthodontic treatment needs to begin around that age to ensure proper development of straight teeth and a healthy bite. Joseph Z. Yousefian, DMD, MS of Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens and Adults in Bellevue, Washington, explains more about the importance of pediatric orthodontics.
Make the first appointment early
Your child’s first appointment with Dr. Yousefian needs to be earlier than you might think. Ideally, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, the right time for a first visit with an orthodontist is around age 7.
By getting an evaluation at a young age, the orthodontist can look at X-rays of your child’s mouth and predict how much orthodontic work will be needed. This timing is ideal, because your child will have a mix of some baby teeth and some adult teeth.
Your child may not need orthodontic treatment as young as age 7. Only some types of orthodontic treatment need to begin that early. Most likely, Dr. Yousefian will tell you what to expect in the coming years. If you do need to begin early treatment, it’s designed to make your child’s orthodontic development easier and less complicated.
Benefits of early orthodontic treatment
Early orthodontic treatment has many benefits for your child. Among them:
- Early discovery of dental issues
- Support for incoming permanent teeth
- Discovery and possible reversal of issues such as thumb-sucking
- Less invasive and more cost-effective procedures
- Reduced need for tooth removal
- Better preparation for future costs
The result: a healthier smile for your child.
Kinds of available pediatric orthodontic treatments
When Dr. Yousefian sees your child for the first time, he will likely perform an oral exam that includes X-rays. He may also take photos. Some of the treatments he may suggest with younger children include:
- A palate expander to widen the upper jaw
- Four springs (called a quad helix) to widen the arch of the mouth
- A limp bumper to make room for lower teeth
- Traditional braces
- Invisalign aligners (which have smaller programs specifically for children)
Why you should make an appointment as soon as possible
Some parents may be hesitant to make an appointment at a time that seems too soon. However, in general, it’s better to do it too early than too late. For one thing, waiting until all of your child’s adult teeth have come in will generally be more expensive and complicated.
Although we still can treat children and teens after their adult teeth have come in (and can even treat adults), it’s much easier when we can do it beforehand. Treatments such as palate extenders and a quad helix can widen the mouth to make room for adult teeth, which can prevent issues such as crowding.
If your child is getting to the age when it’s appropriate to make a first orthodontic visit, they will find that it’s not scary at all. Our friendly environment can help ensure they will develop a beautiful smile. Call Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens and Adults today, or request an appointment online.