Why are there so many questions and confusion about the right time to take your child to an orthodontist? An orthodontist is not the same as a dentist, and that’s probably where the confusion lies. Dentists deal with teeth, gum, nerves, and jaw, whereas orthodontists focus more on correcting occlusion, bites, and straightening the teeth.
A child should see a dentist by the age of 1. However, when it comes to orthodontists, many parents believe that their children shouldn’t see the specialist until they are teenagers. And this is where they might be wrong.
Let’s find out when and why your child should actually visit the orthodontist.
What’s the appropriate age for your child to visit an orthodontist?
According to experts, you should take your child to an orthodontist by the age of 7. Parents often believe that the only purpose of the orthodontist is to straighten their children’s teeth and they don’t see the need for that before their children are teenagers.
However, orthodontists do more than just teeth straightening. They are trained to prevent, diagnose and treat dental and facial irregularities.
These are only some of the reasons why taking your child to the orthodontist by the age of seven is important. You won’t be late even if you take your child when they are 8 or 9, but the earlier the better.
What are the signs that your child may need to see an orthodontist?
As a parent, you can spot signs that may indicate that your child should visit an orthodontist. Here are some of the most common signs.
- Mouth breathing
If you notice that the child is mouth breathing, take them to an orthodontist. Although mouth breathing might not necessarily be an orthodontic issue, it’s better if the professional gave their opinion.
Mouth breathing can cause a lot of health issues, from chronic ear infections, sleeping problems to deformed and irregular jawbone growth and airway infections. Taking your child to see an orthodontist can solve all these problems while your child is still young.
- Gapping and overlapping of teeth
Whether your child’s teeth are too spaced out or they are too crowded, these are all signs of common orthodontic problems. Instead of waiting for the teeth to correct themselves, take your child to an experienced orthodontist and deal with these problems early on.
Crowded or spaced-out teeth can cause many different problems. For example, crowded teeth are harder to keep clean and this, in turn, can cause tooth decay. Of course, each problem increases the chances of another problem, and tooth decay is connected to gum disease. Too many spaces between teeth can also lead to gum issues.
- Irregular bites – overbites, underbites, and other bite problems
Yet another sign that your child should take a trip to an orthodontist are irregular bites. If you notice that your child’s upper teeth are protruding over lower teeth, they are probably dealing with an overbite. This misalignment can cause a lot of trouble such as problems eating, sleeping, and even speaking amongst other equally important issues.
Underbite, on the other hand, is the opposite of overbite. It’s less likely that you’ll see lower front teeth sticking too far out but it can happen. One of the most common reasons for underbite is thumb-sucking or pacifiers.
If your child has been thumb-sucking or using the pacifier beyond the age of four, you should take them for a check-up.
In truth, it’s never too late to visit an orthodontist. People of all ages wear braces, retainers, Invisalign, and other orthodontic treatments. The point is that younger children’s jawbones are still in the process of development and growth, and it’s easier to work under those circumstances.
The older your child is the greater need for more invasive orthodontic treatments such as operations. So, don’t wait a minute longer, schedule an appointment with an orthodontist right now!