You may have heard your orthodontist mention the importance of early prevention, but what exactly does that mean? Why is it better to begin treatment before any problems arise?

At Charleston Orthodontic Specialists Powered By Smile Doctors, we stress preventative care to ensure the health of your child’s teeth in the future. By simply monitoring your child’s growth and development along with tooth eruption, your orthodontist can help decide the perfect timing of treatment for your child.

What Is Early Prevention?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit an orthodontist when they reach seven years of age. Seven is an ideal age for an initial visit to an orthodontist to detect any abnormalities with the teeth or bite position that may cause problems later. Because your child’s jaws and teeth are changing so rapidly, it’s important that a certified orthodontist see your child every 6-12 months from age seven until they are ready for treatment. At our office, we do not charge for these observation visits including the necessary x-rays and photos.

Each child is unique in their jaw growth and eruption of their baby teeth. Children who have jaw growth issues, crossbites, thumb-sucking habits, or an early loss of baby teeth may need early preventative treatment between the ages of 7-11.

Children who don’t have any of these issues may be able to forgo treatment until most of their permanent teeth have erupted from age 11 until 13. Because the timing is different for every child, your orthodontist will monitor their jaw growth and tooth eruption at no charge until they are ready for treatment.

Additionally, if your family dentist or pediatric dentist has suggested that you visit an orthodontist, please contact our office. We’d be happy to perform an initial examination and talk you through the best steps to take for your child’s smile and overall dental health.

There are a few signs you should look out for to determine whether your child needs early treatment:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Noticeable overbite or underbite
  • Teeth that don’t come together normally
  • Crowding of the front teeth
  • Speech impediments
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb sucking
  • Protruding teeth
  • Jaw shifting

It’s essential to discuss any of these issues with an orthodontist so you have a clear picture of what to look for. Your orthodontist will also take x-rays to detect issues you may not be aware of. We encourage all family, friends, and future patients to schedule a free consultation by age seven to let us monitor your child at no charge every 6-12 months. It is not necessary to have a dental referral for this exam and if you don’t have a dentist we will recommend one for you who we feel is a good fit for you and your family.