Getting ahead of orthodontic health is just like managing laundry, it’s much easier when you stay on top of it. Just as you wouldn’t skip a check-up at the pediatrician, you shouldn’t skip an early visit to the orthodontist either. A visit to the orthodontist before the age of 7 can help maintain your child’s oral health and potentially prevent more invasive or costly treatments later in life.
By visiting an orthodontist early, your child may be a good candidate for a palatal expander, which can make the upper jaw wider and reduce crowding in abnormally narrow arches. Ideally, this procedure is performed while the patient is still growing, as the expansion occurs when the growth plate or suture in the middle of the palate is stretched, and the two halves are pushed apart. Early palatal expansion may also reduce the need for extractions or prevent impacted teeth, which if left untreated may require surgery in adulthood and cause abnormal wear or bite problems.
Sometimes, a short time in braces can correct problems early on to prevent more significant issues later. This is known as early interceptive treatment, which can be used to correct anterior crossbites, for example. In some cases, removing baby or impacted teeth can encourage permanent teeth to emerge better and closer to their ideal position, even without orthodontic appliances. Your orthodontist will suggest the best time for extractions to take advantage of your child’s growth and development.
It’s important to note that not all early visits result in orthodontic treatment. Your child’s first appointment with the orthodontist could result in one of three things: no need for treatment at that time, future treatment that requires periodic monitoring, or an existing problem that would benefit from early treatment. Most orthodontists offer free consultations, so it’s essential to take advantage of this and make an appointment early on.
To achieve a healthy, beautiful smile at any age, it’s essential to trust an American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) orthodontist. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, which is the proper alignment of teeth and jaws. They possess the necessary skills and experience to give you your best smile. You can find an orthodontist near you by visiting aaoinfo.org/locator.