Straight Smiles for Kids
When should I make an appointment with an orthodontist for my child?
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends the first orthodontic exam for children at 7 years of age. When kids are about to lose their last baby tooth is often a good time to get a consult from an orthodontist who can provide some insight on the next steps for your child.
Even if your child does not need braces at their very first visit, Dr. Moore offers complimentary growth & guidance consultations every 6 months. This allows us to routinely keep an eye on your child’s development & to start treatment at the best time for them individually.
Treatment typically should wait until all deciduous (baby) teeth are lost all adult teeth are visible. This is usually around 12 years of age. This ensures the shortest time your child will have to spend in braces and allows treatment to redirect the growth of the jaws if necessary. The reason your child should be seen by an orthodontist at age 7 is because there are some rare situations that may require earlier orthodontic intervention. These conditions may include crossbites, underbites, and severe overbites. In even more rare cases, the severe excess in the overlap of teeth may suggest that treatment is necessary even before all adult teeth are present.
In such cases, orthodontic appliances can be used to correct problems while your child is still developing. If the jaws are too small for all of the permanent teeth, sometimes an expander is used to correct the size of the jaws. If the lower jaw grows more quickly than the upper jaw, this can result in an underbite. Braces, elastics, or headgear can be used to correct this type of problem and reduce or prevent complications down the road. Keep in mind that teeth are moving, living things. As deciduous (baby) teeth are lost, open spaces are created that teeth can drift into. Sometimes it is necessary to simply keep those teeth from moving, sometimes it is required to move teeth to insure all adult teeth fit together, and sometimes it is necessary to change the way the upper and lower teeth fit together.
Dr. Moore believes that every child deserves advice, follow up, and care. For this reason, all growth and guidance exams are complimentary. We will give open and honest advice that is purely from the perspective of ensuring our patients are well cared for.
In the rare instances that a patient needs braces before all adult teeth are erupted, we usually break up treatment into two phases. The first phase will last approximately 8 to 12 months. During this time, treatment is designed to correct any existing issues that interfere with correct biting & chewing. Once teeth are properly positioned & jaws aligned to one another, braces are removed & retainers are made that are designed to guide the adult teeth into a correct position while the remaining deciduous (baby) teeth are lost.
After the first phase of treatment is complete, your child will re-enter our growth and guidance program, visiting the office every six months for routine monitoring until they are ready for the second phase of treatment once all adult teeth are present. This phase typically begins at 11 to 13 years of age, at which time we may use traditional braces to move the permanent teeth into their optimal & final positions.
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