When Should Your Child See an Orthodontist?

Most health concerns don’t just go away on their own. We don’t commonly grow out of health conditions or grow into our body parts. Though that might somehow save some time or money, it isn’t realistic. It’s also unrealistic to assume that your child’s dental issues will resolve themselves with time or growth. When it comes to orthodontic problems, early intervention is vital to avoid destructive growth patterns that could prove painful and costly.

Your child needs teeth and jaws that are appropriately aligned to have a solid and long-lasting smile; they need a proper bite. The earlier we catch problems with your child’s bite, the simpler they are to fix. Bringing your child to Lake Jackson Orthodontics for orthodontic examinations and care at a young age is the best way to ensure a lifetime of healthy teeth and aligned smiles!

At what age should my child begin seeing an orthodontist?

Around age seven, children have a decent mix of baby or primary teeth and permanent teeth. This assortment of growth stages provides Dr. Kevin McGrory with a before and after map of your child’s jaw growth and the path the emerging teeth will likely take. While there is no exact age, it is around this point that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends beginning your relationship with your child’s orthodontist.

Seven is an age when most parents will report seeing signs of maturity in their children’s attitudes and preferences and is when the eruption of the first adult molars occurs, as well. These molars help establish the overall bite your child will inherit as they age and their alignment becomes set with time and bone maturity. The positioning of these molars can determine if early treatment will best benefit your child’s oral health or if monitoring your child’s growth and development is all that is necessary for the time being.

Signs your child should see an orthodontist earlier than age 7

While some issues may be obvious, like crooked teeth or malocclusions like an overbite or underbite, other matters can remain undetectable by the untrained eye. For many parents, it’s not easy to know if your child may need orthodontic treatment. Even teeth that look straight may be hiding a deeper problem with their bite.

Here are a few clues that may indicate the need for orthodontic attention at Lake Jackson Orthodontics:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • A hard time chewing or biting food
  • Mouth breathing
  • Pacifier use, finger or thumb sucking
  • Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
  • Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening or closing
  • Teeth that come together abnormally or do not come together at all
  • Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
  • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight

You don’t need to wait for a dentist to refer your child to an orthodontist. General dentists and orthodontists focus on different aspects of dental health. Dr. McGrory is an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. When it comes to facial development and bite correction, he has the knowledge and experience to give your child’s smile the best chance!

What to expect with your child’s orthodontic visit?

During your child’s orthodontic examination, our friendly team will assess the growth and harmony of your child’s jaws and facial bones. We will also inspect the positioning and anticipated eruption of the teeth as baby teeth are lost and permanent teeth appear in the mouth. Our systematic approach includes taking specific orthodontic photographs to record and measure jaw and teeth positioning, complete exam of the teeth, mouth, facial structures, and any necessary x-rays to evaluate the development of the teeth and jawbones.

This examination may reveal that your child’s bite is acceptable and that early treatment is unnecessary. If a problem is found or is developing, Dr. McGrory will recommend intervention with early treatment.

Does early treatment mean braces?

The whole goal of intervening with early treatment is to establish balanced jaw alignment and ensure space and positioning for the eruption of permanent teeth. Early orthodontic treatment does not necessarily include braces though it may be the best route for your child’s specific needs.

Other examples of early treatment options:

  • Removal of stubborn baby teeth to allow the permanent tooth to erupt into its intended position
  • Tongue positioning and training through appliances such as a tongue retaining device or intervention for finger and thumb sucking
  • Utilizing a palate expander to widen the jaw and correct breathing problems and lack of space for tooth growth

Early treatment at Lake Jackson Orthodontics can begin correcting significant problems, prevent more severe problems from developing, and simplify future treatment. In some cases, our doctors will be able to achieve results that would be much more difficult once the face and jawbones finish growing. Early intervention can be beneficial. We will watch how your child’s mouth and teeth grow and develop, so if we see something that needs to be done, we will do it as it comes up.

When should my child begin orthodontic treatment to straighten their smile?

Sometimes preventative and early treatment is all your child needs, but, in some cases, your child may require a second phase of orthodontic treatment to obtain that rockstar smile you were expecting. While kids’ age to begin this phase of treatment can vary, most kids will start their orthodontic treatment between nine and fourteen.

At Lake Jackson Orthodontics, your child’s orthodontic treatment isn’t limited to metal braces, though, thanks to innovative technology, metal braces aren’t as cumbersome as they once were. We are also excited to offer clear braces that use tooth-colored material to make it practically impossible to know you are on your orthodontic journey. Another great option with lots of flexibility but top-tier efficiency is orthodontic treatment with Invisalign clear aligners.

Ready to get ahead of your child’s orthodontic journey? Trust Lake Jackson Orthodontics!

Dr. McGrory and his caring team at Lake Jackson Orthodontics have set the standard in the Lake Jackson, TX, area for affordable, exceptional orthodontic treatment for patients of all ages. Our commitment to a “no pressure” approach is designed to make you feel comfortable from beginning to end. Get in touch today for your FREE consultation to start your child’s smile journey!