Timing of Treatment
Age 1 – Good dental health begins
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that a child first visit the family dentist by their first birthday. Even though all of a child‘s primary (baby) teeth usually have yet to erupt it‘s an excellent time to lay the foundation for a lifetime of good dental habits.
At this early age, the child‘s teeth can be examined and cleaned without discomfort. This allows the child‘s first experience with the dentist to be a positive one. That in turn begins to establish a good attitude toward dental care and future visits.
At the first checkup, the patient and child will likely receive instructions on proper toothbrushing and advice on the importance of a proper diet. Thereafter, regular visits are necessary for detecting problems early and maintaining good dental health.
Age 7 – Another important visit
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist at age 7. This may surprise parents because orthodontic treatment is generally associated with adolescence. An early examination, however, is very important to ensure the maximum dental health for a child.
The following warning signs may indicate that the child should have an orthodontic examination as soon as possible:
- Difficulty in chewing
- Open-mouth breathing
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Overlapping or crowding of erupting permanent teeth
- Jaws that tend to click or pop
- A developing underbite, overbite, protruding front teeth, or other abnormal bite development.
Although age 7 is the best time for the majority of children to have their first orthodontic examination, a visit at even a younger age is advisable if a particular problem has been noted by the parent, family dentist, or child‘s physician.
The Benefits of Early Diagnosis
Orthodontists can improve smiles at any age, but there is usually a best age for treatment to begin. An early examination allows the orthodontic specialist to determine how and when a child‘s particular problem should be treated for maximum improvement with the least time and expense. In some cases, early treatment achieves results that are unattainable once the face and jaws have finished growing.
The First Visit
An orthodontic examination at age 7 does not always result in immediate treatment. After evaluating the child, the orthodontist may simply want to check the child periodically while the permanent teeth erupt and the jaws and face continue to grow. If, however, the child has a problem, the orthodontist may recommend interceptive treatment. These limited measures are used to guide facial growth and tooth eruption, thereby preventing more serious problems from developing.
Early intervention frequently makes the completion of treatment at a later age easier and less time consuming.
Article Courtesy of the American Association of Orthodontists