When is the right time for my child’s first orthodontic check-up?

When you think of orthodontic braces, you’re probably imagining them on a teenager’s teeth. Because we’re so used to thinking of braces as something that is only necessary during adolescence, many parents may make the mistake of believing orthodontic intervention should always occur after a child has hit puberty. However, contrary to popular opinion, visits to the orthodontist during childhood can help to identify and treat orthodontic problems as they develop. Early intervention can also lead to less complicated and more effective treatment later in life, which means your teenager will have a minimal amount of pain and stress during orthodontic visits.

What is the right age for a first visit?

Though the child’s baby teeth and developing permanent teeth may appear straight, there could be problems developing under the surface that a parent can’t see. A qualified orthodontist could detect and identify these problems early on so that they can be monitored over time. If orthodontic issues look like they may require treatment then it can be optimally planned to coincide with the child’s natural growth pattern.

Why is age so important during orthodontic treatment?

As human faces grow, they change on a skeletal level. Genetics, oral habits, and airway problems greatly influence how facial growth occurs, and often determine the ultimate appearance of facial features upon reaching adulthood. By closely monitoring the relationship between a child’s teeth, jaw, and bite, an orthodontist can guide and influence this growth to ensure a healthy, well-aligned jaw and straight, even teeth.

Collecting data starting at age seven enables an orthodontist to determine an individual child’s optimal treatment time, which typically occurs between the ages of 11-14. By timing treatment to coincide with a child’s maximum growth (the window between when the last of the bottom baby teeth fall out and the onset of puberty), skeletal problems such as retrusive jaw (commonly known as an overbite) and constricted palate (which leads to crowding) can be handled with maximum effectiveness. Well-timed treatment can also mean fewer extractions in the future, by eliminating or dealing with crowding as the jaw is still being formed.

What should we expect at our first pediatric orthodontic visit?

Your first visit with your child to an orthodontist’s office should be a comprehensive evaluation that can take up to a couple of hours. Your child will receive a thorough clinical exam including x-rays and photos of the mouth and jaw. The orthodontist will diagnose any developing problems and propose an individualized treatment plan. If any appliances such as retainers, spacers, or expanders are required, the orthodontist will describe them in detail and answer any questions you may have about them.

The importance of good oral hygiene will also be discussed, reinforcing what your child should already be hearing from their dentist. You should also get an idea of approximately how long the orthodontic treatment will be necessary, the age at which different interventions will be recommended, and how frequently you should expect to be making appointments. Some insurance plans will cover orthodontic treatment, but even if yours doesn’t, you may be eligible for a payment plan depending on office policy.

Phobias of dentists and orthodontists are unfortunately far too common. Brodie Bowman Orthodontics offers braces for kids in Fort Walton Beach and gives oral hygiene advice to parents and adults seeking orthodontics services. Dr. Brodie Bowman advises that by making orthodontic visits a normal part of your child’s healthcare routine early on in life, they will have less anxiety and stress during oral health visits in the future, and will feel more prepared for any treatment to come.

Whether you think braces for kids is too early for your child or you’re unsure whether its time, early intervention can also increase your peace of mind as a parent. Contact Dr. Brodie Bowman today to book an appointment for your child. Learning more about braces for kids in Fort Walton Beach is not only a useful oral hygiene procedure, but you can rest easy knowing your child’s orthodontic health is in good hands, and that their future faces will beam with beautiful, healthy smiles. Make an investment in your child’s smile and they will thank you for it someday.