‘Timing Is Everything’- When to bring your child to see an orthodontist?

‘Timing Is Everything’- When to bring your child to see an orthodontist?
Posted on 02/03/2015


‘Timing is everything.’ Amen! Shouts the guy writing this. There may be no more appropriate statement than this for an orthodontist. Time can be an orthodontist’s best friend or it can be an enemy.

I often get asked the question, “when do I have to take my son or daughter to see an orthodontist?” The wording of the question always puzzles me. Not “when should I” or “when can I” but instead “have to”. Like it’s a punishment. Or an inevitable unwelcomed certainty. The feeling I get from some people is the longer I can get away with not stepping into an orthodontic office the better. Not True!

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child should have an initial orthodontic visit at age 7. Now I know what you are thinking. Well of course orthodontists would recommend that, it’s in their best interest financially. Not true either! The majority of orthodontic offices, including ours, offer complimentary exams. I am not aware of another profession that does this, so why not take advantage of it? Orthodontists take pictures, x-rays, conduct thorough exams, and provide recommendations all at no cost. The majority of these complimentary consultations at early ages end with no recommended treatment and the patient is placed on a yearly recall status. Orthodontists continue to provide these yearly consultations and any associated records, again at no costs.

So then why bother with these early visits if the majority requires only monitoring until all baby teeth have been lost? The answer…those in the minority have a crucial time-dependent window of opportunity to provide appropriate intervention. If that is missed, it carries several unwanted consequences for a child’s dental and skeletal development. These early problems are quite numerous and usually require the expertise of a specialist to properly diagnose and treat. They include but are not limited to certain crossbites, openbites, overbites, jaw alignment discrepancies, permanent tooth eruption complications, and prolonged finger/thumb habits. The advantage to early diagnosis and intervention of these common problems is multiple. 1) Easier; Treatment rarely requires the use of braces 2) Faster; Most of these problems can be remedied in less than a year 3) Prevention; Resolution of these early problems save patients from longer, more difficult, and sometimes compromised treatment in the permanent dentition.

Even for those children that fall into the majority, any orthodontist will tell you that it’s easier to properly treat an adolescent patient if they have been watching them grow for several years as opposed to seeing only a snapshot in time.

For more information visit the link below.

Dr. Justin Wild DDS, MS