Seeing a general dentist as early as 1 year old can help identify problems your child has before they become a more serious matter. The same is true for seeing an orthodontist, & the American Association of Orthodontists recommends seeing one by age 7.
Age 7 is recommended due to the average child’s oral development. Not only have baby teeth come in, but it’s around this time that your child starts losing teeth & replacing them with their permanent adult teeth. In addition, it’s easier for your orthodontist to examine X-rays of the remaining adult teeth still under the gumline. This examination can inform the doctor about a lot of potential issues that may be easier to solve with early detection.
Knowledge Is Power
An early exam can spot dental concerns years before they become a problem. According to the National Institute of Health, crossbites, open bites, arch length discrepancies & other bite misalignments (malocclusions) can be remedied early to “reduce the complexity or even avoid the necessity of complex & expensive procedures during puberty.” So while we typically think of our first orthodontist visit as a teen getting braces, science has shown going earlier has serious benefits.
Treatment options include using simple oral appliances such as retainers as opposed to full braces, as well as removing impacted teeth. While having a tooth removed can include a little healing time, that time pales in comparison to the time it will take to realign a bite if the tooth is left in. Done early, extractions can help adult teeth come in with a greater chance of proper alignment. A common reason for this extraction is if a baby tooth doesn’t fall out as normal, sometimes because the adult tooth is already coming in at an angle that doesn’t provide enough pressure to loosen the baby tooth.
Save Now & Save Later
Not only can you & your child save time & money down the road, orthodontic insurance options for youth are typically geared to help you get ahead of the curve. Many orthodontists offer free exams & consultations. Plans in the U.S. that qualify under the Affordable Care Act can also help cover the costs of treatment. In Canada, plans can also cover a large portion of orthodontic treatment. Depending on where you live, there can be significant savings under children’s orthodontic coverage versus an adult’s.
Knowing what your options are is a great way to improve your child’s health & give you peace of mind. If you don’t know who to go to for your child’s first visit, your regular dentist likely has a great referral for you, if not a doctor on staff who can help.