When you think of orthodontics, the first thing that comes to mind is probably teens in metal braces. However, you may be surprised to learn that the American Association of Orthodontists actually recommends that children have their first orthodontic evaluation by age seven! You may wonder why your child should see an orthodontist by age 7, as most still have baby teeth and developing mouths at this age. Well at Kaplan Orthodontics, we believe in preventative care…
When your child is examined by an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Kaplan at an early age, they can catch orthodontic issues sooner. This can often reduce the risk of bigger problems developing later on in life, which will help prevent any negative impact on their future permanent teeth and bite.
We treat a lot of young patients, so we’ve been able to observe firsthand how starting treatment at the right time can make a positive difference to a child’s overall oral health. If your child is ready for their first orthodontic appointment, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at their teeth. Keep reading below to learn more about some of the things we’ll be checking for during this initial evaluation.
Tooth Loss & Eruption
Even though baby teeth eventually fall out, their role as placeholders for permanent teeth is very important. Where they’re located and when they are lost matters more than you might think! These primary teeth tend to fall out in a fairly specific order, so any significant deviation from this pattern could be a sign of a developmental issue that needs attention.
Most children will also have at least four permanent morals and up to four permanent incisors. If your child has more or less than this, it could indicate a problem with missing, crowding, or extra teeth. There are instances where we may choose to remove a primary tooth early. In other instances, we need to maintain a space where a tooth has been lost too early to prevent bigger problems later on.
Crowding & Spacing
Experienced orthodontists like Dr. Kaplan are generally able to tell relatively early in your child’s life if they’re experiencing problems with excessive crowding or spacing of their teeth. He will also be able to determine is such problems are likely to develop later on. Spacing issues can show up when a tooth is lost prematurely, where one has never developed, or with teeth that too small or spaced apart. We can correct crowding issues by expanding the arches or removing certain teeth.
Crooked teeth are more likely to have uneven damage and wear. When left untreated, over a long period of time, misalignment can compromise the surrounding gum tissue and affect the shape and position of it. We can successfully align teeth at almost any age, but getting a head start on this can help prevent some of that wear and tear in children. This will give the best start for a healthy smile.
While cosmetic concerns may come to mind first, front teeth that obviously protrude can cause jaw pain and may contribute to speech problems as well. We can’t always permanently correct an overbite until your child’s mouth has finished growing, but there are still a number of things we can do to help reduce the risk of pain, traumatic injury, and improve psychosocial concerns.
Problems with either the teeth or jaws can cause an underbite. The most difficult scenario is when the lower jaw grows too far forward. In this kind of case, we’ll typically need to wait until the patient has finished growing around are 16 or so to begin their treatment. Even if there’s a waiting period involved, early treatment is still important in order to avoid bite-shifting and damage to the front teeth. Underbite patients who receive early treatment between the ages of about 7-10 are less likely to need jaw surgery when they get older.
A posterior crossbite can lead to crowding, and may also cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other. Expanding the upper jaw in earlier childhood may allow us to reduce crowding and create space for the front teeth to come through uninterrupted. Expansion can also eliminate any shifting that may be present due to a constricted upper jaw.
Anterior Open Bites & Deep Bites
These are vertical bite problems. In bites that are too deep, the top teeth completely cover the bottom ones when biting, which can indicate a small lower jaw. In an open bite, the overall bite doesn’t overlap enough. This may be a sign that there is a finger, thumb, or tongue habit causing dental problems. If this is the case, our team will be happy to work with you and your child to eliminate destructive habits early on. This will allow development to continue normally. Open and deep bites can usually be detected by the time your child is ready for their first orthodontic appointment.
Early Evaluations = Healthier Smiles
Early orthodontic evaluations are an important part of giving your child a healthy smile! As children grow, their jawbones begin to harden and will eventually stop growing. Any orthodontic procedures we perform at this point will take more time and be more invasive. This includes treatments such as tooth extraction or oral surgery.
Having your child examined and treated by an orthodontist as a child often helps prevent the need for orthodontics later in life. Preventive treatment like early evaluations can also make comprehensive orthodontic treatment faster and more efficient!
We make sure your child’s smile is top priority with a talented team committed to providing five-star orthodontic care, in a friendly and stress-free environment. Located in Dunwoody, it’s easy to take the first step towards a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime when you visit Kaplan Orthodontics. And with 2020 on the horizon, there’s no better way to jump into the new year than by giving your child a head start on a beautiful smile!
If you’re ready to schedule your child’s first orthodontic appointment with us, get in touch today. We’d love to help you get started.