When should my child visit an orthodontist?

Your child is probably going to spend some time in an orthodontist’s chair. Here’s when to book that first visit — and what to expect when you do.

Boy getting fitted for braces

Your child should make that first trip to the dentist at around age 3. The dentist will become familiar with your child’s teeth and be able to recognize early on when an orthodontist may be needed. Your child’s dentist will let you know if an orthodontist is likely in your child’s future and when you should start seeing one. She probably can put you in touch with a reputable orthodontist in your location.

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Be proactive.

You don’t have to wait for your dentist to recommend a visit, though. As the parent, you call the shots with your child — so if you start to see a problem, call an orthodontist and set up a consult. Keep in mind that orthodontists do a lot more than create pretty smiles. They also fix issues that may lead to difficulty chewing, swallowing and speaking, and they can help correct or prevent facial deformations. Keep an eye out for any of these problems with your child and contact a dentist or orthodontist at the first sign of trouble.

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Start the process early.

Most orthodontists recommend you make that first visit by age 7. Although that age is quite early for treatment, it’s a good time to get started. At the initial appointment, an orthodontist will evaluate your child and help you lay out a plan for orthodontic care at some point down the road. They may also let you know if you can do anything to help between now and then. Also, younger children are less resistant to orthodontic intervention, so it may be beneficial to plant the seed of that possibility as early on as you can.

Most kids who get braces or other corrective orthodontic care do so between the ages of 11 and 15. At this age, most of the adult teeth have at least started to come in, so getting an idea of how your child’s adult mouth will look is easier for your orthodontist.

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Oral health is key to overall health. Get those little teeth to the dentist and stay on top of possible orthodontic issues.

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