Orthodontics for Children

Orthodontics for Children

When to see a dentist or an orthodontist?

As recommended by the Canadian Association of Orthodontists (CAO) and the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), children should undergo a first orthodontic examination around the age of 7.

Why should kids see an orthodontist at the age of 7?

  • It is around the age of 7 that the first permanent molars erupt and help establish the posterior occlusion.
  • At this time, it is already possible to evaluate the relationship between the teeth and jaws in 3D (front-rear, width, and height) and to detect several skeletal and dental problems, as well as functional deviations of the lower jaw.
  • Incisors have begun their eruption and some problems may be identified: overlapped or rotated teeth, malocclusion, anterior open bite, harmful habits, and facial asymmetries.
  • Note that there may be variations in children’s dental development. Some children experience earlier teeth eruption while others are slower. Thus, it may be appropriate for some children to see the orthodontist at the age of 6 while in others, it could be at the age of 8. However, the age of 7 is normally a good time for a first orthodontic evaluation.

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Benefits of early orthodontic interventions

When an intervention at a young age is indicated, such preliminary treatment offers many benefits:

  • Positive influence on the growth of jaws;
  • Balancing the width of dental arches;
  • Improving eruption patterns;
  • Reducing the risk of injury to protrusive upper teeth;
  • Correcting bad dental habits;
  • Enhancing aesthetics and self-confidence;
  • Simplifying or reducing the duration of subsequent orthodontic treatments;
  • Minimizing the possibility of impacted permanent teeth;
  • Improving speech;
  • Preserving or recovering the necessary space for the eruption of the permanent teeth.

An orthodontic evaluation at an early age probably won’t avoid the need to intervene again later, but this can lead to a simpler and more effective treatment while reassuring the patients about their dental condition.

The dentist who refers young patients to an orthodontist is a knowledgeable practitioner who cares about patients’ well-being.

Examples of early orthodontic interventions

Here are some orthodontic procedures that may be indicated in patients from the age of 7:

  • Palatal expansion (if the palate or upper jaw is too narrow);
  • Control of thumb-sucking;
  • Use of an oral screen to correct swallowing disorders;
  • Selective extractions to help permanent teeth eruption;
  • Correction of an anterior or posterior cross bite.

Even with no apparent problem in your child’s teeth, ask for a first assessment around the age of 7. A panoramic X-ray taken at that age can reveal a lot about the future of your child’s mouth.

Examples of early orthodontic interventions

Here are some orthodontic procedures that may be indicated in patients from the age of 7:

  • Palatal expansion (if the palate or upper jaw is too narrow);
  • Control of thumb-sucking;
  • Use of an oral screen to correct swallowing disorders;
  • Selective extractions to help permanent teeth eruption;
  • Correction of an anterior or posterior cross bite.

Even with no apparent problem in your child’s teeth, ask for a first assessment around the age of 7. A panoramic X-ray taken at that age can reveal a lot about the future of your child’s mouth.

Observation period

  • During the initial examination, if nothing major or unusual is detected and no intervention is required, the child’s teeth will be monitored at regular intervals of 12 to 18 months to follow their evolution.
  • Appropriate recommendations will be made in due course during subsequent visits.
  • The dentist may recommend a panoramic X-ray for the following reasons:
    • To have an overview of the developing dentition;
    • To monitor dental growth and development;
    • To ensure that all teeth are present and develop normally;
    • To evaluate dental eruption rate and direction as well as space available in the mouth;
    • To prevent and/or minimize the appearance of some problems.
  • For patients with mixed dentition (presence of temporary teeth and permanent teeth), we will let nature follow its course between each examination and intervention (if there is a reason to intervene). It is usually appropriate to reassess the development of the dentition every ± 12 months. Seeing the orthodontist more frequently does not bring any benefit for the patient unless a particular condition calls for a close follow-up.

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