It is a sight that is becoming more common at elementary schools: second and third graders in braces. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, all kids should get a check-up with an orthodontic specialist by age 7. By this age, your child has enough permanent teeth for an orthodontist to determine whether an orthodontic problem exists or is developing. Some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they are found early. If early treatment is in order, the orthodontist may be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
While orthodontic treatment most often begins between the ages of 9 and 14, some children’s orthodontic problems can benefit from earlier treatment. If early treatment is indicated, it can give the orthodontist the chance to guide jaw growth, lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth, correct harmful oral habits, improve appearance and self-esteem, guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position, and improve the way lips meet. Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated.
While your child’s teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem that only an orthodontist can detect. The check-up may reveal that your child’s bite is fine. Or, the orthodontist may identify a developing problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then if indicated, begin treatment at the appropriate time for the child. In other cases, the orthodontist might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment. Because patients differ in both physiological development and treatment needs, the orthodontist’s goal is to provide each patient with the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time. Through an early orthodontic evaluation (many orthodontists will perform an initial screening for free), you will be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile.
Guest Writer-Dr. Eric T. Wong is a South Bay orthodontist with a practice located at 23326 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance. He can be reached at (310) 378-4220 or visit his website for more information at erictwongddsortho.com.