When should we take our children to see an orthodontist?
Why do some kids at school already have braces or appliances in their mouths? Surely they still have baby teeth. Is it not too early? Am I missing the boat?
Perhaps you are asking yourself questions like these. As parents we try to do what is best for our children, and having orthodontic treatment can greatly impact their overall appearance and health. In fact, The Australian Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children between eight and 10 years old visit a registered children’s orthodontist for an assessment.
By the time a child is eight years old, they should have enough permanent teeth for a children’s orthodontist to evaluate the relationship and development of their teeth and jaws. Although it is very possible that orthodontic treatment will not start until a few years later, there may be instances in which a first stage of treatment, also known as Phase I, could be beneficial.
Having early orthodontic treatment does not necessarily eliminate the need for further treatment in the future but it can reduce the severity of a more difficult problem to deal with later. Young jaws are much easier to manipulate painlessly, and specialist orthodontists are trained to help direct or manage tooth eruption and jaw growth when required.
A child’s teeth may appear straight, but this doesn’t necessarily rule out any developmental issues. There are a few appearance and behavioural characteristics to look out for, including:
- crowded or misplaced teeth
- early loss of baby teeth
- undesirable habits such as finger sucking beyond the age of five to six
- open bite, where front teeth don’t overlap
- deep bite, where there is too much overlap of the front teeth
- underbite, where lower front teeth are in front of the uppers
- crossbite, where upper back teeth sit inside the lowers
- mouth breathing
- protrusive teeth
- functional problems where chewing and speech are affected
Remember that a referral letter is not required to visit your specialist orthodontist for a chat, so why not make an appointment to ensure your child’s smile is looked after now and in the future?