When should a child see an orthodontist?
“How do I know when my child should get braces?” is a very common question from parents. The official recommendation from the American Association of Orthodontists is by the age of 7. Their reasoning is that the permanent first molars are erupted (or are in) at this age. Once those teeth touch each other, a “bite” in the back has been established. This allows the relationship of the top and bottom front teeth to be evaluated.
Most seven year olds will not receive orthodontic treatment at this age, so you can relax! The majority of children are then are monitored yearly, and may start active treatment in the age range of 11-12 years old. What many people in my generation are confused about is that they see young people (8 year olds) with braces. The same child will have braces on again around age 12 for a few years more. Some orthodontists recommend a two phase treatment, correcting a severe misalignment early on.
What is a single phase treatment plan? It’s likely what you or I experienced in our adolescent years. We got our braces on in our Tween years, wore them for 2 or three years and then they were off. Today, orthodontists are able to treat many more people without extracting teeth. In order to accommodate for not enough space for all the adult teeth, the maxillary arch is often expanded (widened) prior.
If you are wondering if your child needs braces, let's talk about it at their next exam.