How do you know when to start orthodontic treatment and when your child should receive his or her first orthodontic evaluation? Contrary to popular belief, children should receive their first exam before all of their permanent teeth have emerged. According to the AAO (American Association of Orthodontists), the optimal time is around age 7.

Why should your child receive an orthodontic evaluation when they don’t have all of their permanent teeth yet?

Our orthodontists, Dr. Saxe and Dr. Drowley, are highly experienced in assessing growing mouths and detecting problematic orthodontic conditions before they fully develop. Many orthodontic problems are rooted in the alignment or width of the jaw. All of the permanent teeth do not need to be fully erupted for our orthodontists to identify these problems.

In fact, it’s often better to treat alignment problems before all of the permanent teeth and jaws have fully developed. If we recognize that your child would benefit from early treatment to prevent aid in proper growth of the jaw and eruption of permanent teeth then we will make that recommendation.

Can a 7-year-old get braces?

Early orthodontic treatment is most effective when it’s broken up into two phases that compliments the natural development of the teeth and jaws. Although it’s beneficial to perform an orthodontic exam around age 7, this doesn’t necessarily mean your child will begin treatment or get braces at age 7.

Our goal during the first evaluation is to assess the skeletal and dental relationship and determine in relation to your child’s chronological and dental age. Our orthodontists can detect problems, like a narrow palate, missing teeth, asymmetries or a malocclusion (abnormal alignment), around age 7.

What happens if my child needs treatment?

During your child’s orthodontic exam, if we determine that a problematic condition is present or will soon arise, we may suggest that he or she begins phase 1 treatment. This may include an orthodontic appliance, like a palatal expander, to correct a crossbite or partial brackets to create a sufficient amount of space in the mouth for all permanent teeth to grow.

Using appliances around this age is ideal, because they work alongside the natural development of the teeth and jaws. This can reduce or even eliminate the need for future treatment. (As some conditions progress and the bones are further developed, jaw surgery may be necessary treatment. If we intervene with treatment before the condition progresses, your child may only require braces or Invisalign® First to treat the condition.)

Once there’s enough space for permanent teeth to grow, we may determine that braces at age 8 or 9 would be beneficial. Phase 1 treatment generally begins around the ages of 7 to 10, and phase 2 treatment often follows once most of the permanent teeth have erupted. Every child develops at a different rate, so your child may be ready for a braces evaluation around age 9, or a little later in the early teen years—it all depends.

Our orthodontists will suggest the right treatment at the right team for your individual child and their needs. Sometimes that means letting young patients mature a bit before we start treatment, putting braces on over multiple appointments, or holding off on treatment until your child will experience the maximum benefit.

Your child’s treatment plan will be 100% personalized for them. No two children are the same, and no two smiles are the same! We only want what’s best for your child’s smile, health and self-esteem.

Still have questions about your child’s first orthodontic evaluation?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Early orthodontic treatment (if necessary) can pave the road for a beautiful, healthy smile and a lifetime of confidence.

We provide high-quality orthodontic care in Las Vegas for children, teens and adults! If you or your child hasn’t received his or her first exam yet, we encourage you to request a complimentary exam today.

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