When Should My Child See an Orthodontist??

Often times parents wonder when should their child first see an orthodontist.  Many people mention to me that their children have friends with braces at age 8 and want to know what is going on.  The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening around the age of 7 years old.  Now does this mean that a bunch of 7 year olds need braces? NO absolutely not.  Our research studies show that only about 10-15% of children in the 7-9 age range need any sort of orthodontic treatment.

There are very specific conditions in which a child benefits from orthodontic treatment at an early age.  Sometimes these conditions are much easier addressed at 7-9 and save the patient a lot of work down the road.  An orthodontic screening helps to see if the patient is in that 10-15%.  For the majority of patients, in this age group, no treatment is needed, but an orthodontic screening does have other benefits.

Well then what is an “orthodontic screening” all about?  First of all, the screening is complimentary so no cost to you at all!  In my office an orthodontic screening consists of an exam, sometimes an xray if needed, and a question  and answer session with the patient and parents.    I like to make sure that the patient is losing their baby teeth in the correct sequence and that all the  adult teeth are present on the xray and are in correct position to come into the mouth.  Dental development is different in each child and sometimes there are things that concern the patient or parent and this gives me a chance to help with any questions.   Also, having a screening allows the patient to become at home in the office and begin to form a relationship with the orthodontist.

Typically, after the first screening, I ask the patient to return every 6-12 months to make sure that their dental development is on the right track.  Seeing patients as the grow up allows us to choose the best time to do braces, if the patient wants or needs them.  Whether it is braces, invisalign, or another treatment type, performing treatment at the most optimal time allows the treatment to finish as quickly as possible and provide the best possible result.

So what do you do if your child is already older than 7 or 8 and hasn’t had a screening by an orthodontist?  No worries, just call and set one up when it is convenient for you.

Lyndsie, a patient of Dr. Woodall's and her brother Kaden

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