At what age should your child be seen by an orthodontist for their first consultation?
As a parent, you may recall that you didn’t meet your orthodontist before your teens, however much younger children now benefit from an earlier orthodontic consult and in some cases initial treatment. There is a lot an orthodontist can tell from examining a child before the age of 10.
Not Too Young (or Too Old)
Orthodontics Australia and most orthodontists agree that seeing a child between the age of 7 and 10 is ideal. To some parents, it might seem like an impossible task to look in a child’s mouth containing a mix of baby and adult teeth and accurately tell if they need orthodontic treatment now or in the future.
But a child’s teeth and jaw can give an experienced orthodontist all the information they need to determine if are likely to have any issues as adults. A child’s occlusion (bite) is apparent from the age of two. An orthodontist can tell you if your child has an under or overbite and the level of severity.
But don’t worry - if your child is over the age of 10, it’s never too late for their first orthodontic consultation. Remember we treat older children and adults all the time.
What are the Benefits of Seeing an Orthodontist When your Kids are Young?
If you’re not sure if it’s worth the hassle of taking your child to the orthodontist before the age of 10, read on:
#1 Fewer Orthodontic Treatment Choices Once a Child Has Matured
Some problems can be treated more easily at an early age. Many problems are caused by a small jaw. Children’s jaws are growing from the time they are born. At birth, the jaw is about 50% of its adult size, and by age six it is almost 80% of its adult size. During the teenage years, the jaw bone hardens and stops growing.
During the first consultation, the orthodontist will check on the growth and development of your child’s jaw. If deemed necessary, there is an opportunity to widen a child’s jaw before their palate fuses together. Once the child is older, and the jaw has finished growing, widening is a far more intrusive procedure.
#2 Other Orthodontic Treatment Options Besides Braces
When seen early, some orthodontic problems can be improved with a removable orthodontic appliance (plate). Between the ages of 8 and 10, before the baby molars are loose, a plate can be used as part of a two-phase treatment. The plate can help with alignment of the jaws and help accommodate all of the existing and unerupted permanent teeth. A plate can also help widen a narrow arch. A plate can influence the growth of the jaw to improve a narrow upper jaw and an under-developed lower jaw.
#3 Deciding to Upgrade or Take Out Health Insurance
Deciding to take out health insurance to help cover the cost of dental and other medical expenses is a personal one. Some people prefer to cover the cost of orthodontics themselves while others feel prefer to take out a health insurance policy to offset the cost of all their family’s health expenses.
Most health insurance organisations have waiting periods for orthodontics so if you know your child will need braces in the future, it allows you to join and serve the waiting period. We have a mix of patients with and without health insurance.
#4 Time to Save for Orthodontics
Orthodontics is a significant investment for some parents whether they have health insurance coverage or not. If you take your child to see an orthodontist at a young age, they may tell you that your child will need braces in a few years’ time. While you don’t need to outlay the full cost of the braces upfront, it gives you time to put some savings away or just plan for the expense, so it doesn’t come as a surprise.
#5 Advice with Other Health Problems
If a child is experiencing problems with sleep, breathing, swallowing and ear infections, an orthodontic appointment may give you more information, An orthodontist may be able to tell if your child’s health problems are related to their teeth, tongue, jaw or airway. This additional information may help you decide on the best course of treatment to take, possibly in conjunction with other health professionals to improve your child’s condition and wellbeing.
#6 Social Problems
As parents, we often don’t think our young children are years off worrying about their appearance. We think back to our own childhood and think we were teenagers before we gave any thought to how we looked and what others thought about our appearance. However, times have changed. Children seem more aware of problems (real or perceived) with their smile. Early treatment of some bite problems and crooked teeth can improve a child’s confidence and social development.
#7 Peace of Mind
For some parents, an early consultation gives them peace of mind. They hear other parents talking about their children of the same age undergoing the first phase of orthodontic treatment and wonder if their child should be doing the same before they are ‘too old.’ A consultation can give you options or reassurance that no orthodontic treatment is needed at this stage.
Considering Orthodontic Treatment for Your Child?
There are many advantages to starting orthodontic treatment for children at a young age. Improve your child's smile and book an appointment!
Questions and Answers During the First Orthodontic Consult
The first orthodontic appointment is an excellent opportunity for parents and children to ask questions. Even if your child doesn’t need any orthodontic treatment for a few years, you can take the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
Find out if your child will benefit from phase one treatment, i.e. plate
Will your child likely need braces only or no treatment
The timeframe for starting treatment, now or return during the next 1-5 years
An estimate of the cost of treatment
Making your Child’s First Orthodontic Consultation
You don’t require a referral from your child’s school or family dentist to make an orthodontic appointment.
Our consultations are entirely obligation-free, so you won’t be required to make any decisions at the time of your child’s first consultation. Your orthodontist will give you all the information you need to take away and decide on the course of action you and your child wants to make.
If your child is anxious about the appointment, reassure them that we are only having a look and talking about possible treatment in the future. At The Orthodontists, we’ve had years of experience meeting and treating children with a range of health and psychological issues. Please let us know at the time of making the appointment, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure the experience is a positive one for your child.
For more information about early treatment or to make a booking, call The Orthodontists on (08) 9364 8020 or contact us online.