We’re all familiar with the idea of teens or pre-teens sporting braces. In fact, for many generations of teenagers (maybe even yourself those many years ago!) braces are almost like a rite of passage! But what might be surprising is that orthodontics for kids can actually start sooner. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends kids have their first orthodontic screening no later than age seven, or sooner if parents notice signs of an orthodontic problem.
But why a first orthodontic visit at age seven? Here, your Palm Beach Gardens and Wellington Board-Certified Orthodontist, Dr. Jonathan Murray, has seven reasons to consider:
1. You’ll Get A Helpful Picture of Future Oral Development
At age seven, children have a mix of permanent and baby teeth, and their bite is already starting to establish. The first molars erupt around age six, and the incisors erupt around age seven. This is the perfect age to see an orthodontist, as there are several problems that can be identified at this time, which ultimately are easier to correct if they’re addressed earlier.
As a parent, you’ll also get a heads up on your child’s oral development and find out if it’s on track. Dr. Murray will also determine if there’s room for all your child’s adult teeth to erupt properly, examine your child’s jaw alignment, and determine if there’s crowding or if teeth may potentially become impacted.
Now rest assured, first orthodontic visits don’t mean children walk out with full dental braces! Many times, this early visit is just a first look, kicking off a series of regular check-ins as your child grows. When it’s time for your child’s comprehensive orthodontic treatment with all their adult teeth, Dr. Murray will let you know.
2. We Can Identify Missing or Extra Teeth
An early orthodontic consultation at Murray Orthodontics includes a gentle yet comprehensive exam by Dr. Murray, quick & painless low-radiation digital x-rays, and photos for a full picture of your child’s teeth and gums.
Sometimes, if baby teeth are lost early or out of order, the adjacent teeth can shift into that spot and cause a loss of space. When that occurs, a space maintainer is sometimes recommended to ensure the adult teeth have room to erupt properly when they’re ready.
On the other hand, maybe your child’s sweet grin’s looking extra toothy. If so, we might talk about extracting any extra baby teeth. Sometimes supernumerary (extra) teeth can block adult teeth from erupting or lead to alignment issues.
3. Correcting Harmful Oral Habits
When your kiddo was a baby, habits like thumbsucking and tongue thrust were a natural part of development, and super cute! But if these habits continue into toddlerhood or early elementary school years, they can impact your child’s oral development. An early orthodontic consultation is a chance to receive guidance on stopping these habits.
Prolonged infant habits such as thumbsucking can contribute to narrow jaws, overbites, and crossbites, while tongue thrust can create an open bite and cause premature wear on back teeth. Dr. Murray might suggest a habit-breaking appliance (don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt!) to discourage harmful oral habits.
4. Addressing Jaw Issues More Easily and Comfortably
Has Dr. Murray concluded that your child has a jaw issue like an underbite, overbite, crossbite, or narrow palate? If so, orthodontics for young kids with a palatal expander or limited braces might be recommended.
But why not wait until the teen years? Well, the advantage of correcting jaw issues early is that your child’s upper jaw is still growing, making it easier and more comfortable to make changes that may not be possible once the face and jaws stop growing. In the upper jaw (palate), there is a suture that separates the bone into two halves. This suture fuses around age 12 in girls and age 15 in boys, so we want to make sure we correct any transverse jaw problems way before this!
5. We Can Help Your Child Achieve Good Quality Sleep
Quality sleep is extra important for kids — their developing brains and bodies need it! What can hinder restful, restorative shut-eye, however? Sleep disordered breathing symptoms like mouth breathing, sleep apnea, and snoring. Orthodontics for children can help alleviate these symptoms by using tools to expand a narrow palate and open up the airway! Dr. Murray and the team at Murray Orthodontics can work with you and an ENT specialist to create a plan to improve sleep quality for your child.
6. Let’s Boost That Confidence!
Let’s be honest, missing or crooked teeth or a bad bite can make a child feel self-conscious. So along with correcting functional and developmental issues, orthodontics for children has the benefit of improving aesthetics, too. A nice smile equals confidence, and confidence affects everyday interactions.
7. Preventing Damage or Trauma to Teeth
Children’s permanent upper front teeth have typically erupted by seven years old. If they are protruding, these teeth become more susceptible to injury or getting knocked out, especially if your child plays sports or is really active. For children with protruding front teeth, limited dental braces (braces only on certain teeth) will align front teeth within the dental arch, reducing the risk of dental trauma.
Smiles Made Easy At Your Palm Beach County Orthodontist
Up to speed on the importance of a first orthodontic visit at age seven and the benefits of orthodontics for children? Great! Let’s get started together on ensuring your child’s best smile. With compassionate care paired with modern technology and techniques, award-winning orthodontist, Dr. Murray, is your go-to Palm Beach County orthodontist for children.
You and your child will feel right at home the moment you step into one of our bright, friendly offices. We treat you like the VIPs you are and go out of our way to make sure your child feels comfortable and has fun!
Schedule a complimentary first orthodontic visit today at our Palm Beach Gardens or Wellington office.