How Early Is Too Early For Braces?

Content Provided By Dr. Scott Ralph

How Early Is Too Early For Braces?
When most of us think of children in braces, we picture teens or pre-teens. However, in some cases it's a good idea to start even earlier. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child be screened by an orthodontist no later than the age of seven.

Seven is the ideal age to schedule an orthodontic appointment for your child for two reasons: baby teeth and permanent teeth. Seven-year-olds have both. If you child does show signs of an orthodontic problem, and treatment is in order, the presence of baby teeth makes correction easier. If you wait until all the permanent teeth have come in, it can be tougher to correct certain problems – sometimes resulting in longer and more complicated treatment.

Every case is different, and for each child who requires orthodontic attention, there is an ideal time to begin treatment, based on the type and severity of the problem, the growth stage of the child, and any contributing factors (including heredity and oral habits like thumb sucking). Identifying problems early in development allows us to make the most of the growing years to guide the proper development of the jaw and teeth. We also have the chance to impact appearance and self-esteem at an early age.

We are specially trained to detect orthodontic problems, even in young children whose baby teeth appear straight and normal. However, there are signs you can watch for at home. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider an orthodontic evaluation even prior to age seven:

- Did your child lose his or her baby teeth much earlier or later than average?
- Does your child exhibit any difficulty in chewing or biting?
- Is your child a mouth breather?
- Is your child a thumb sucker or finger sucker?
- Are your child's teeth crowded or misplaced?
- Does your child's jaw make clicking sounds?
- Does your child regularly bite the inside of the cheek or roof of the mouth?
- When your child closes his or her mouth, do the teeth miss each other instead of meeting properly?
- Are your child's teeth or jaw out of proportion to the rest of the face?

If you have any questions about early orthodontic treatment or suspect that your child may need an evaluation, please give us a call.

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