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At What Age Should My Child First Visit An Orthodontist?

Child with Braces

One topic often glossed over when considering children’s dental care is the importance of their first orthodontic visit. It’s common for parents to assume that an orthodontic visit is only necessary if evidence of some related concern is present. However, your orthodontist can do more for your child than address an existing problem. When you take your child to visit the orthodontist, they can identify developing problems and address them before they become a concern. Knowing this, the next important question is when is the right time to schedule that first orthodontic visit?

Knowing When It’s Time For Your Child To See The Orthodontist

Thankfully, the answer to this question is simple. The American Association of Orthodontics has established the best time for your child to visit the orthodontist for the first time at seven years of age. It’s important to know that this visit isn’t about receiving treatment; it’s about taking steps to identify any developing concerns. Having identified them, you and your orthodontist can develop a plan to prevent them from becoming severe.

The age of the first visit was established based on a few important factors that occur in your child’s development at this stage. These factors include:

  • Most children have lost a few baby teeth by the age of seven but haven’t developed adult teeth
  • The first set of adult molars begin to grow in behind the last of the primary (baby) teeth
  • The presence of primary and adult teeth helps reveal any future orthodontic concerns
  • The health of your child’s bite can be determined, and any necessary treatments presented

During their first visit to the orthodontist, your child will receive a 3D scan, known as a growth and development scan, to determine if there are any missing adult teeth. Our patients are often surprised that nearly 5% of the population is missing an adult tooth. We’ll also examine the results to determine if there are any deviations from the standard tooth eruption process. Eruption is the growth of teeth through the gums as they move into their permanent position.

When treatment is necessary, it usually takes place in two steps. The first stage occurs between the following three years, from ages seven to ten. These treatments are usually mild, consisting of palatal expanders, braces, a retainer, or other methods of modifying the shape and growth of your child’s oral cavity. Phase two treatments occur when concerns are remaining that the phase one treatment did not address. In many cases, phase two can be avoided by receiving phase one treatment promptly.

Speak To Your Orthodontist To Learn More

Your dentist is your best source of information about dental concerns. Reaching out to your orthodontist helps ensure that you have the latest and most up-to-date knowledge about orthodontic care. If you have a child that is nearing the age of seven or has already passed it without a first orthodontic visit, call and schedule one today. The benefits can improve your child’s smile and save money on more complex treatments that may have been needed otherwise.

Dr. Karmen Massih Inspired by orthodontics at the age of 10, Dr. Karmen Massih earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine at UCLA's School of Dentistry. After earning her certificates in orthodontics at the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to her hometown of Glendale, CA, to begin Massih Orthodontics, a practice dedicated to transforming smiles for people of all ages.