As a parent or caregiver, you’re probably already aware of how important dental care is to a child’s smile, including regular visits to the dentist each year. But did you know that orthodontics can play a big role in their oral health as well? That’s why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have an orthodontic evaluation by around the age of 7, but we often hear from parents who aren’t sure why these visits are necessary. After all, younger children still have developing mouths and many baby teeth left, so why should your child see an orthodontist by age 7?
If you have a child whose teeth appear to be relatively straight, you may be even more confused. Appearances can be deceiving, however! An orthodontist can see the underlying issues that an untrained eye is likely to miss, including crowded teeth, a misaligned bite, or irregularities in the way the permanent teeth are erupting. By the time a child is 6-7 years old, most will have enough dental “landmarks” in place that their teeth, jaw, and bite can be assessed to ensure everything is developing normally.
Don’t worry—these exams don’t always lead to treatment! In fact, we recommend immediate treatment for only a small fraction of the young patients we evaluate here at Farrow & Dewbre Orthodontics. These visits are still valuable, though, as they offer peace of mind that your child’s smile is off to the best start possible and help monitor them for any potential problems. Keep reading to learn more about why early orthodontic evaluations are important and what you can expect from them!
Checking for common orthodontic issues
When you schedule your child for a visit with us, our team will assess their oral health and development. Dr. Farrow and Dr. Dewbre will also be looking for anything out of the ordinary that could signal treatment is warranted, either now or in the future. By identifying such issues early on, our doctors have the opportunity to correct them before they can develop into something more serious. There are several common orthodontic issues we’ll be checking for during an evaluation, including the following.
Aside from the cosmetic impact of crooked teeth, they can also be harder to clean and are more susceptible to uneven wear and tear. If these issues are left untreated over time, it can eventually affect both the shape and position of the surrounding gum tissue.
As the placeholders for our permanent teeth, baby teeth matter more than you may think! These primary teeth also tend to fall out in a pretty specific order. If your child has any significant deviation from that pattern, it could mean there is a developmental issue that requires further attention.
These problems can occur when a tooth is lost prematurely, where one has never developed, or if a child has teeth that are too small or spaced too far apart.
We expect most children to have at least four permanent molars and up to four permanent incisors by around the age of 7. Any more or less than this could indicate a potential problem with missing, crowding, or extra teeth.
Front teeth that noticeably protrude may be viewed as primarily a cosmetic concern, but they can also increase the risk of potential injury to the permanent teeth and affect a child’s speech.
Underbites can be caused by problems with either the teeth or jaws. This usually involves the lower jaw growing too far forward, or the upper jaw growing deficiently.
A posterior crossbite can cause crowding and may cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other so the top and bottom teeth can fit together. A narrow upper jaw can also be associated with a narrow nasal passage.
Anterior Open Bites and Deep Bites
These bite problems 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. With an open bite, the overall bite doesn’t overlap enough.
What are the benefits of an early orthodontic evaluation?
We love early orthodontic evaluations because they allow us to approach orthodontic care proactively rather than reactively. That means we are in a better position to give our younger patients the care and treatment they need when it will benefit them the most. There are other positives to consider as well! We’ll highlight some of them below.
Help guide jaw growth
In childhood, the mouth and jaw are still growing and developing. This is the ideal time to help guide that growth with orthodontics! This helps ensure a child has a healthy bite in place as they get older. If treatment is recommended at this stage, it’s often far less invasive than it would be for someone whose jaws have already stopped growing.
Break bad oral habits
Habits like thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, and extended bottle or pacifier use can cause misaligned teeth and even change the shape of the jaw. The sooner they’re addressed, the less destructive they may be! There are a number of treatments available to help correct these bad habits and reverse any damage already done.
Go beneath the surface of your child’s smile
Our complimentary consultations include a complete oral exam and x-rays. This gives our doctors the chance to see what’s happening beneath the surface of a child’s smile! Dr. Farrow and Dr. Dewbre will be able to look at the position and growth of the permanent teeth that haven’t erupted yet, allowing them to create a treatment plan for the best possible outcome based on your child’s specific needs.
Become part of the Glow Up Club
If there’s no indication that immediate treatment is necessary, we’ll invite you to continue visiting our team every 6-12 months so we can continue to monitor their smile as they grow. By doing so, we’re much more likely to catch and treat any emerging issues early on. These recall visits are always free of charge, and to make them even more fun for children, we created our Glow Up Club!
If we determine your child isn’t quite ready for orthodontic treatment, they will be automatically enrolled into the Glow Up Club. Their membership includes exciting perks like:
- a welcome kit
- a prize from the Glow Up Club treasure visit at each visit
- take part in our monthly contest for bigger prizes
- birthday cards
- occasional news and gifts in the mail
Set your child up for a stunning smile with Farrow & Dewbre Orthodontics
When you bring your child in for an early evaluation with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Farrow and Dr. Dewbre, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles! These visits are one of the best ways to maintain a child’s oral health over the years. If you have a young child who is ready for their first orthodontic visit, get in touch today to schedule their FREE evaluation!