When should my child first see an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists advises that children are scheduled for their first visit with an orthodontist at the first sign of any orthodontic problems, or by the age of 7. Around this age, the first adult molars typically emerge in the back of the mouth, followed by the eruption of incisors in the front. A panoramic radiograph taken at this time reveals how the unerupted teeth are also developing. Therefore, at this early age, an orthodontist can already see how the bite is developing and predict how the remaining permanent teeth will emerge!

The earlier we catch problems with your child’s bite, the simpler they are to fix. The results are often better than if we wait. Although early orthodontic intervention is not required for every child, it is essential to schedule a visit to ensure there are no significant issues. Your child’s growth will be monitored to ensure issues are treated on-time.

What’s the point of early orthodontic treatment? Why not wait?

Early orthodontic treatment, known as Phase One, occurs between the ages of 7 and 9. This differs from “regular” orthodontic treatment, called Phase Two, which takes place around the age of 12 when all permanent teeth have erupted. Phase One is initiated when there are urgent issues that need immediate attention. These issues may include:

  • Early or delayed loss of baby teeth
  • Delayed emergence of permanent incisors or first molars
  • Severe crowding
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Jaw shifting around when biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Teeth that “stick out” preventing lip closure
  • Persistent finger habits
  • Facial or dental asymmetries

By addressing these issues early, Phase One can facilitate proper jaw development to accommodate all permanent teeth and improve the fit between the jaws and the teeth. In the long run, this can prevent traumatic tooth damage, reduce the length and complexity of Phase Two, eliminate the need to extract permanent teeth during Phase Two, and even avoid surgical procedures to realign the jaws in adulthood, as some procedures can only be done at this age.

If your child is 7-8 years old and you have concerns about their bite, please contact us to schedule an appointment. Remember, if your child does not need early intervention, that’s great! We will continue to monitor their development to determine when or if Phase Two should begin.

Request an appointment here!