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Orthodontic Visit

What Age Should My Child Have an Orthodontic Evaluation?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic screening for children by the age of seven (7) years. By being a patient in Dr. West’s office your child will receive a complimentary orthodontic screening on their first appointment and on every periodic oral health evaluation that follows. Whether you are considering treatment for yourself or your child, any time is a good time to schedule an appointment with Dr. West.

Why Age 7 For My Child?

Although there are some orthodontic problems that can be detected and should be corrected as soon as they are diagnosed, many concerns need to be observed over time to determine potential growth problems. At age of seven (7) the first permanent molars and eight anterior teeth (four upper and four lower) are usually fully erupted and this allows us to recognize the basic alignment of the anterior teeth and the relationship of the upper jaw to the lower jaw. A thorough exam with radiographs can help determine if adequate space is available for the other permanent teeth that will erupt. The radiograph can also allow early detection of congenitally missing permanent teeth. At this time the jaws are developed enough so that an orthodontist can see if there will be any serious bite problems in the future. Most of the time treatment is not necessary at age seven (7), but it gives the parents and Dr. West time to watch the development of your child and decide on the best mode of treatment. When you have time on your side, you can plan ahead and prevent the formation of serious problems.

Fact: By age 12, 90% of a child’s face has already developed. 75% of all 12 year olds need orthodontic treatment.

As a dentist who has post-graduate training in both Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Dr. West is especially qualified to determine whether Early Treatment (Phase One) is appropriate for your child. Understanding your child’s emotional and psychological maturity is as important as recognizing their orthodontic needs. This allows him to make sound decisions on the correct time to start treatment since each child matures on their individual schedule.

What Causes Crooked Teeth?

Hereditary factors such as extra teeth, missing teeth, wide spacing, and large teeth in small jaws are all causes of crowded and crooked teeth. If either parent had braces, their children will probably need braces! Additionally thumb sucking; tongue thrusting, premature loss of baby teeth, and a poor breathing airway can all contribute to poor tooth positioning which later become orthodontic problems.