WHEN SHOULD CHILDREN HAVE THEIR FIRST VISIT TO AN ORTHODONTIST?
It can be a common misconception that oral care is simply a luxury, and as adults with completely developed teeth this may be true. However, at a young age tooth care is extremely important for insuring healthy, functioning teeth. So, the important question is when should children begin to visit an Orthodontist? This question can be answered by observing the development of teeth. Between the ages of 6 and 12, when the facial structure and teeth further grow and develop, an Orthodontist is able to best correct any incorrect growth that might be occurring in the child’s permanent set of teeth.
Tooth development occurs in two stages; the first set of teeth, called primary teeth, and the final, permanent adult tooth set. The early stages of oral development are a crucial time for the teeth of children. Primary teeth begin to break through the gums around six months of age, typically emerging in a pattern of front teeth to back teeth (1). A disruption of this order is one of the main causes of child dental problems; leading to the growth of teeth in the spaces of other teeth, infections, and crowding in the mouth.
Even though the primary teeth may appear to be straight and orderly, the underlying adult teeth are experiencing a number of changes that could potentially lead to malformed permanent teeth. By the age of 3 the primary set will be completed and the growth of the jaw and facial bones will begin to increase. It is important to remember that during this period of growth a child’s teeth will go through a lot of normal changes, such as the seemingly crooked appearance of the front permanent teeth. This is a problem that will simply correct itself as the rest of the permanent teeth come in, filling in spaces and providing the pressure needed to move each tooth into its proper position (1). However, not all mouth oddities are normal and therefore it is important to consider early Orthodontic visits.
Recognizing the signs of primary tooth trouble is essential to good health in a child’s teeth. Children who are experiencing even slight discomfort caused by tooth abnormalities will engage in actions intended to relieve the
irritation, such as sucking on the thumb, grinding their teeth, or biting of the cheeks and roof of the mouth (2). Such actions tend to appear more frequently around the age of 7, when the progression from primary to permanent teeth is in motion. Your Dentist will examine and will discuss early orthodontic intervention to correct and guide musculoskeletal
discrepancies. Give us a call and bring your son or daughter for your early orthodontic intervention exam.
1. “Your Child’s Teeth: Development Chart and Eruption Schedule.” WebMD. WebMD, 26 June 2015. Web. 26 June 2015.http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-your-childs- teeth>.
2. “A Child’s First Orthodontist Visit.” A Child’s First Orthodontist Visit. N.p., 26 June 2015. Web. 26 June 2015. http://www.dentalassociates.com/braces-orthodontics/childs-first- orthodontist-visit/>.