When should your child start orthodontic therapy, and when should they have their first orthodontic evaluation? Contrary to popular belief, children should undergo their first physical examination before all of their permanent teeth have grown.

According to the AAO (American Association of Orthodontists), the ideal age is approximately age 7.

Early orthodontic treatment is most successful when divided into two periods that complement natural tooth and jaw growth. Although an orthodontic assessment is recommended around the age of seven, this does not guarantee that your kid will begin treatment or receive aligners or braces at that age.

During the first assessment, our objective is to examine the skeletal and dental connection and identify how it relates to your child’s chronological and dental age. Around the age of 7, our orthodontists can discover abnormalities such as a small palate, missing teeth, asymmetries, or a malocclusion (abnormal alignment).

So why should your child receive an orthodontic evaluation when they don’t have all of their permanent teeth yet?

Growing and developing jaws will remodel and change shape if abnormal forces are placed on them. It is important to identify these aberrations in growth patterns, and the most effective way to assess these patterns is through orthodontic evaluation.

Furthermore, children who have not received orthodontic treatment by age 7 may have teeth that are crooked, have untreated tooth decay, or have habits such as tongue thrusting. While these issues may not be causing them any problems at the moment, they could develop into bigger problems later on.

The orthodontic treatment options for children who have not received their first orthodontic evaluation are limited. Therefore, the treatment plan for these children will be focused on doing what can be done in a short amount of time.

Early orthodontic evaluations will allow your child to receive the braces they need when they have the proper amount of teeth to work with. If a first evaluation is not performed until after all of the permanent teeth have emerged (age 10 or older), then your child will not have enough teeth to work with to move them in the desired direction.

If your child requires orthodontic treatment after their permanent teeth have already emerged, more treatment will be required compared to children who received early orthodontic evaluations. Because of this, the treatment will take longer and more appointments will be needed.

If we determine that a problematic condition is present or will soon occur during your child’s orthodontic evaluation, we may recommend that they begin phase 1 treatment. An orthodontic appliance, such as a palatal expander, may be used to address a crossbite, or partial brackets may be used to make enough room in the mouth for all permanent teeth to develop.

Using appliances at this age is appropriate because they function in tandem with normal tooth and jaw growth. This can lessen or possibly eliminate the need for further therapy in the future. (As certain disorders persist and the bones grow further, jaw surgery may be required as a therapy. If we act with therapy before the disease worsens, your kid may just need braces or clear aligners to fix it.)

We may decide that Invisalign or braces around age 8 or 9 might be advantageous after there is adequate space for permanent teeth to grow. Phase 1 therapy often begins between the ages of 7 and 10, with phase 2 treatment commonly following once most permanent teeth have emerged. Because each kid develops at a different rate, your child may be ready for an orthodontic examination around the age of 9, or later in the early teen years—it all depends.

Early orthodontic evaluations can help your child get the treatment they need before becoming a teenager. It is important to find out if your child has any issues that can be corrected through early intervention because these problems can become worse and more expensive to treat if ignored.

Schedule an appointment at Solarte Orthodontics today if you need an orthodontist in Manassas, VA! We have helped many patients in Virginia achieve a healthier, straighter, and more attractive smile. Request your free consultation today!