At what age should your child see an orthodontist?
During the first few years of their life, children don’t all develop at the same speed. The first words and first steps may come much sooner or much later than expected. So the question of the first orthodontist visit is a little tricky: if children all grow at their own rate, how do you determine the best moment to make that appointment? To make things a little clearer, let’s see what the professionals have to say about it.
The Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommends having the first appointment at age seven.
Most problems can already be detected by that age. Baby teeth (also called “milk teeth” or “primary teeth”) are replaced by permanent teeth in a predetermined order. This process unfolds in a fairly predictable way: in most individuals, the appearance of new teeth only varies by a matter of a few months. If the replacement of baby teeth is unusually delayed in relation to the norm, the orthodontist may conclude that an intervention will be necessary in order to correct the problem.
The earlier an abnormality is detected, the better the treatment will be.
With early intervention, more significant problems can be avoided several years down the road.
However, in some cases, the magic number seven may not apply. You should consult an orthodontist before that age if you observe any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of baby teeth before or after the age of five
- Improper alignment of the jaw
- Difficulty chewing food
- Trouble speaking (difficulties with pronunciation)
- Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use, especially after the age of three
Every patient is different.
The above rules of thumb (scheduling the first appointment at age seven and being on the lookout for early warning signs) can be very reassuring for parents. However, if you consult two different orthodontists, you may receive two different answers, making it very difficult to decide what you should do…
Not only is every patient unique, but so is every professional. They all have their own experience and their own way of looking at things. If you have even the slightest doubt about the ideal age to seek treatment, don’t be afraid to ask all the necessary questions.
Your orthodontist should be able to clearly explain the best recommendations for your child’s oral health. This way, you’ll have the assurance of knowing that your child will receive the right treatment at the right time. It’s a matter of trust!