The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child visit an orthodontist by age seven or even sooner if a problem is detected by parents or the family dentist. The first permanent molars and incisors have usually come in by that time and crossbites, crowding, and other problems can be evaluated. The timing of orthodontic treatment is extremely important, so early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment.
When treatment is begun early, the orthodontist can guide the growth of the jaw and guide incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb-sucking, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment.
The posterior occlusion is established when the first molars erupt. At that time, one can evaluate the antero-posterior and transverse relationships of the occlusion, as well as discover any functional shifts.
Incisors have begun to erupt and problems can be detected such as crowding, habits, deep bites, open bites and some facial asymmetries.
For some, a timely screening will lead to significant treatment benefits; for most, the principal immediate benefit is a parent’s peace of mind.
The dentist who makes timely referrals is rightly regarded as informed, caring and concerned for the total well being of the patient.