When Should I See an Orthodontist?

When Should I or My Child See an Orthodontist?

Many parents wait for their dentist to tell them when to see an orthodontist. However, dentists focus primarily on your oral health and are quite busy. While they will notice certain things, they may not have the time or did not have the need to take the types of x-rays that orthodontists use for their assessments. In addition, orthodontist complete an extra 2-3 years full time of residency to specialize in orthodontics and devote their entire practice to it. In this way, orthodontists are experts in tooth eruption and the best timing and methods to begin treatment.

For this reason, the American Association of Orthodontists recommend children have an initial orthodontic consultation at age 7. 

What happens if my child does not receive a consultation before all their teeth are in? Can't we just wait until then to check? 

The reality is, we don't know! Some children, in retrospect, don't end up needing anything before all their teeth come in, and they would have been just fine waiting until age 12 or so when all permanent teeth (on average) tend to erupt.

However, some children have issues that either can't be fixed at all once they are older, or the problems are then much more severe or the results will be compromised.

Here is an example of a child that was alerted to some strange tooth eruption, but the problem was already quite severe. Had the child been referred earlier, the problem could have been much less severe

Here is an example of a 13-year-old boy that had two teeth that never erupted due to some extra teeth in the way in the lower front.  When we saw him, the problem was so severe we wondered those unerupted lower teeth were even saveable. If it they were, it would take years of treatment, surgery, and discomfort. Had the child been referred earlier, the problem could have been much less severe.

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