Many parents assume they must wait until a child has all of his or her permanent teeth, only to find that treatment would have been much easier if started earlier. Some orthodontic problems are easier to correct while the jaw is still growing. Consequently, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child have an orthodontic check-up no later than age seven.
What’s so great about age seven? Enough permanent teeth have arrived for an orthodontist to make a determination about whether any problems are present. The first molars have come in, providing an opportunity to check for malocclusion, or “bad bite.” Also, the incisors have begun to come in, and problems such as crowding, deep bites, and open bites can be detected.
Orthodontic evaluation at an early age provides one of two positive outcomes: For some, early identification or problems will lead to easier or shorter orthodontic treatment in the future. For others, a healthy prognosis will provide immediate peace of mind.
Early evaluation, of course, may signal a need for early treatment. For some children, early treatment can prevent physical and emotional trauma. Aside from spurring on years of harmful teasing, misaligned teeth are also prone to injury and detrimental to good oral hygiene.