At our pediatric dentistry practice, we treat children as their teeth erupt, shift, and develop. We get to know them as they grow, and we care about the future of their oral care. We know what problems to watch for as your little one grows.
As a parent, you may be able to tell there’s an orthodontic issue at play. Maybe your child sucks his thumb at a late age and you worry it will cause malocclusion. Parents can also detect when it looks like teeth are crowded or crooked. You want the best for your child, and so do we. That’s why we recommend, along with the American Association of Orthodontists, that your child visit the orthodontist at the age of seven.
Seven! Isn’t that too young?
Sometimes we hear resistance from parents. We’ve heard, “Seven is too young to see an orthodontist!” and we have also heard, “But she doesn’t even have all of her permanent teeth yet!” We understand seven is young, and we agree that seven year olds don’t have a full set of permanent teeth. What we explain to parents is that these cries of resistance are actually aligned with the need to see an orthodontist. It’s important for your child to see an orthodontist before an issue gets too complicated.
By the age of seven, your child’s mouth will contain a mix of primary and permanent teeth. A good orthodontist will be able to examine your child’s mouth and detect any problems or future problems that may arise.
We know how much crooked teeth can affect your child’s bite. When teeth don’t fit together correctly, they can cause problems with the way your child speaks, bites and chews, and even digests food. Jaw problems can affect the aesthetics of your child’s face. Since your child’s jaw isn’t finished developing, it’s much easier and more effective to start treatment at a younger age than to wait until they’re adults.
Many children see an orthodontist at seven just to be sure nothing’s glaringly wrong with their jaw and tooth development. This does not mean your seven year old will need braces right away. A good orthodontist may want to monitor certain issues to make sure things progress ideally. The average age for kids to get braces is between nine and 14.
Listen to your child.
Your child can feel changes in his mouth. As teeth shift and erupt through this tumultuous time, your child may notice that it’s harder to bite and chew food. Your child may notice his teeth don’t fit together. Without knowing how a good bite is supposed to feel, though, it’s likely that your child will try and adjust to his newly erupted teeth. Talk to your child about his teeth. Explain how the molars fit together to grind up food. Ask if he has teeth that feel out of place or in the way. You may be surprised how mindful your child is of his own teeth.
If your child comes to you with an oral issue, be receptive. Don’t dismiss his worries, even if they don’t make sense to you. Children need to be heard, and hearing them now will ensure that they keep talking to you through the more difficult teenage years. If your child wants to see an orthodontist because her teeth are crooked, make an appointment. Many orthodontists offer free consultations so you can gauge how involved braces may be for your little one.
Remember that regular visits to your child’s pediatric dentist are essential to good oral health. We will guide you through any concerns about your child’s teeth, and we’ll recommend orthodontic care when we think it’s necessary.
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