Why your child should see an orthodontist by age 7

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends children as young as 7 years of age to visit a specialty-trained orthodontist for a wellness checkup. A dental specialist orthodontist is trained to look for potential problems before they can become a serious issue.

Major issues such as crossbite, underbite, and open bite, can be addressed between ages 7-10. The reason we want to address these issues early is because the upper jaw or the maxilla is most “pliable” in this age group. The bone sutures have not fused, and they still have the potential to grow when orthodontic and orthopedic forces are applied with appliances such as the Hyrax Rapid Palatal Expander (RPE) and the Facemask (a.k.a. reverse pull headgear).

The RPE can expand upper jaws when the upper teeth are more constricted relative to the lower teeth while the Facemask can mold the upper jaw forward when there is an underbite. These two appliances may not work as well in older teenagers once their growth potential diminishes. Therefore, it is prudent not to wait too long to start orthodontic braces treatment when major issues are noted.

Even if there is not an apparent crossbite, open bite, or underbite, you should still bring your child to see Dr. Leo Toureno to see if there is any potential tooth impaction. Impacted teeth, or impaction, occur when a tooth is positioned incorrectly while in the jawbone and it refuses to erupt into the oral cavity.

Although impacted teeth, such as impacted canines, occur in less than 5% of the population, they will usually require minor oral surgery to expose them so that orthodontic forces can be used to redirect their positions. This will cost you more in additional surgical treatment and lengthened orthodontic treatment. In addition, impacted teeth have also been known to damage the roots of adjacent teeth.

If seen early enough, Dr. Leo Toureno may recommend a simple extraction pattern of the primary (baby) teeth in order to encourage the permanent canines to redirect its eruption pattern reducing the likelihood of impaction, saving you time, money, and frustration.