Has your child's dentist recommended they get an orthodontic evaluation? If your child still has baby teeth, you might be wondering if a trip to the orthodontist is really necessary. After all, baby teeth fall out and are replaced by new teeth. Why would a child need orthodontic care on teeth that won't be in their mouth by the time they are a teenager?
Believe it or not, most dentists recommend a child get their first orthodontic evaluation once they reach the age of seven years old. Here are the top reasons why your child with baby teeth should start making annual visits to the orthodontist when they reach seven years of age.
1. Your Child's Jaw Is Mostly Fully Developed By Age Seven
A child normally doesn't need to see an orthodontist until their jaw is fully developed. This is because it is too difficult for an orthodontist to see if the jaw is going to have structural problems such as an overbite or a misalignment before then. Once the jaw is fully developed at around age seven, things that may become orthodontic problems as the child gets older can first be seen.
If they are caught early, intervention before the permanent teeth come in may eliminate the need for braces later. If nothing unusual is seen at the first visit, annual visits as the child gets older will ensure that any problems with the jaw that start to develop can be corrected quickly.
2. Baby Teeth Can Be Treated to Ensure the Development of Straight Permanent Teeth
The position of the baby teeth provide the pathways for the permanent teeth that come in behind them. If the baby teeth are misaligned or erupted through the gums in the wrong places, the permanent teeth won't fare much better.
It is much easier to fix crooked, misaligned, or improperly placed baby teeth with gentle orthodontic care than it is to fix permanent teeth that come in wrong. If the permanent teeth come up through badly structured pathways left by the baby teeth, they will need intensive orthodontic treatment over many years to fix. Some extractions may even be necessary.
By intervening early with an orthodontist, you can save both you and your child a lot of trouble later on by ensuring the permanent teeth have good paths to use to come in straight and in the correct places. This may mean putting braces on baby teeth, but it's worth it. Baby teeth issues can be fixed quickly and for much less money than fixing permanent teeth.
Sometimes a short course of braces are required on the permanent teeth, just to make any final necessary adjustments to their positions. If this is the case, the time the braces need to be worn is much shorter than if the baby teeth hadn't been treated first. A lot of times, no braces are needed on the permanent teeth at all.
3. Jaw Size Can Be Changed When a Child Is Still Young
Even once the jaw has finished developing, the bones in it are still malleable for a few years. This is the perfect time for an orthodontist to change the size of the child's jaw, if necessary. According to the New York Times, palate expanders are a common orthodontic treatment in children who still have their baby teeth. These expanders are worn at night and make a jaw that is too small big enough for all of the permanent teeth to come in. This eliminates impacted and crooked teeth later, and may mean the child won't need braces as a teenager.
Likewise, headgear that is worn at night can be used to restrict the size of a jaw that is going to be too large. This will eliminate the possibility for noticeable gaps between the permanent teeth when they come in.
Just because a child still has baby teeth does not mean they can't benefit from orthodontic care. Get your child in to see an orthodontist for the first time by the age of seven, or as soon thereafter as possible.
You will be glad you did if a problem is discovered early that can be successfully treated before the permanent teeth come in. Your child will be happy to avoid more intensive treatment later, too. So, go ahead and make that orthodontist appointment and start your child off right on a lifetime of good teeth.