When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

Orthodontic care isn’t just about achieving a picture-perfect smile; it’s about ensuring the overall health and functionality of your child’s teeth and jaw. One of the most common questions parents have for our Manhattan Family Orthodontics team is, “When should my child see an orthodontist?” The answer might come as a surprise to many: the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their initial orthodontic screening by the age of seven. Why so early? Keep reading to find out!

Getting a Head Start

At age seven, children typically have a mix of baby teeth and permanent teeth. This transitional stage provides our orthodontic team with a window into the future alignment of their adult teeth, helping us to spot potential issues that might become more complicated if left unaddressed. By identifying crowding, spacing, or bite problems that could lead to more significant orthodontic challenges in the future, we can prepare a treatment plan to address those issues ahead of time.

Additionally, early intervention can often prevent the need for more invasive treatments later on. By guiding the growth of the jaw and the position of incoming permanent teeth, orthodontists can ensure a smoother transition as the child grows. This proactive approach can save time, money, and potential discomfort in the long run.

Your Child’s First Orthodontic Visit

Walking into an orthodontist’s office for the first time can bring a mix of excitement and anxiety, especially for young children. Understanding what to expect can ease those feelings and make the experience more comfortable for both the child and the parent.

At Manhattan Family Orthodontics, the team ensures that the initial visit is both informative and reassuring. When you arrive, our friendly staff will welcome your child and help them get acquainted with the environment. Then, we’ll take them back to the exam room to get started.

Using state-of-the-art equipment, your child’s orthodontist will carefully examine the alignment of the teeth, the position of the jaw, and their overall oral health. Every child’s smile is unique. Some might show early signs of potential issues, while others might be on track for natural and healthy dental development. Either way, this assessment will help us decide on a treatment path moving forward.

After the examination, your orthodontist will discuss their findings with you. They’ll provide insights into whether any immediate intervention is required or if it’s best to wait and observe the child’s growth and development. Not all patients require early intervention at this age, but for those who do, we’ll recommend two-phase orthodontic treatment.

Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment

After an initial consultation, most children will only need periodic check-ups until their orthodontist decides it’s the best time to start treatment. However, for those with more significant orthodontic issues, an early round of treatment can lay the foundation for a straighter smile in the future.

Phase I

This initial phase typically begins while the child still has a mix of primary (baby) and permanent teeth. During this time, our team focuses on addressing significant orthodontic issues that may become more complicated if left untreated, such as jaw discrepancies or severe crowding. Treatment during this phase might involve appliances to guide jaw growth, space maintainers, or partial braces.

All in all, this stage of the orthodontic journey helps to align the baby teeth and reset the jaw alignment, making it easier for the permanent teeth to follow in the future.

Resting Period

After your child finishes Phase I, we’ll remove the appliances and wait for your child’s permanent teeth to erupt. No active orthodontic treatment is carried out during this time, but we’ll monitor their progress and choose the best time to start Phase II treatment.

Phase Two

Once most or all of your child’s permanent teeth have erupted, we’ll begin the second and final phase of treatment. The primary goal here is to ensure each tooth is in its proper place for optimal function and aesthetics. This phase often involves full braces or aligners to perfect the tooth positions, giving your child the finished effect and a happy smile.

By addressing orthodontic concerns in two distinct phases, this treatment approach can often prevent the need for more invasive procedures later on, ensuring a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing result.

Set Your Child Up for Success at Manhattan Family Orthodontics

Just like every child is unique, so are their smiles! At Manhattan Family Orthodontics, we prioritize early patient care so that we can provide customized treatment plans that work best for their needs. So whether your child requires an early round of treatment or a simple observational period before beginning braces or Invisalign, we’re here to help you set them up for smile success.

Contact us today to schedule your seven-year-old’s first free consultation!