If your child’s dentist has recommended that they need to see an orthodontist at a young age, don’t be alarmed. The AAO (the American Association of Orthodontists) recommends that children be examined by an orthodontist by the age of 7.
You may be thinking, “Why? Won’t they just need braces again if we do them now? Can’t we just wait?”
The reason behind the AAO’s recommendation of an orthodontic evaluation by age 7 is as follows: By age 7, the 6-year molars and a few front permanent teeth have usually erupted. Sometimes, these teeth erupt into positions that can be harmful such as a crossbite, where the bottom teeth sit in front of the top teeth. If this situation occurs, children can develop recession, where the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth. If teeth are not biting together properly, children can develop harmful habits and skeletal asymmetries.
Additionally, by age 7, we can determine if the permanent teeth are erupting properly. Sometimes, we observe abnormal eruption of teeth, which can create larger problems if they aren’t discovered until later. If your child needed a baby molar extracted, for example, we need to make sure there will be enough room for the adult tooth to eventually erupt. We have seen occurrences where a baby molar was extracted due to a large cavity, and over time, the remaining teeth drift into the space created by the extraction, blocking out the eruption of the permanent teeth.
We may not necessarily recommend orthodontic treatment be started at age 7, but it is helpful to have a baseline so we can monitor your child’s growth and eruption of permanent teeth. Coming to the orthodontist at an early age allows us to time treatment optimally so we may be able to avoid surgery or extraction of permanent teeth in the future.
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