The decision of when my child should learn to surf is pretty open-ended. The question of “when should my child see an orthodontist” is a little more complicated and the answer is …
Because an orthodontist doesn’t know what kinds of skeletal issues may be developing or whether there are extra teeth present or missing teeth or teeth developing or erupting in the wrong place or at the wrong time, we can’t tell you exactly when your child needs to be seen. To cover our bases the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that most children be evaluated for any potential orthodontic problems at or around age 7. By age seven, an orthodontist can start to have an idea of what kinds of problems are present currently and even more importantly what kinds of problems may develop in the future. At this age, we can start to make recommendations about things we can consider doing now versus things we may consider doing at a future date. We can often describe the issues that may arise in a way that gives parents the option of planning for future treatment needs or alternatively jumping in and treating immediately if that option is warranted.
Sometimes the best thing to do is “nothing at all” and let mother nature take her course as teeth erupt and skeletal structures develop naturally. We will try to help you understand the tradeoffs present when considering that option. If “Early Treatment” ( read more, here [ Early Treatment ] ) is warranted, we can help you understand that option. If Early Treatment is not necessarily a good idea, we may simply recommend waiting until all the adult teeth are present to begin treatment or even waiting until your child is an adult and able to make treatment decisions for themself. We have enough research to support the observation that a dental bite can be very stable in certain configurations and will not (or very rarely) self-correct when needed. In these types of scenarios we may attempt to wait until a growth-spurt starts and then fix the bite and [ Encourage the Lower Jaw to Grow ].
When surgical intervention is a very real possibility due to genetic predisposition (Mom or Dad’s inherited growth pattern), we will identify that potential and try to help you understand the things we can do to alleviate or in some cases eliminate those types of skeletal issues.
As orthodontists, we understand that growth and development (be it skeletal or dental) are complex topics and an evaluation at age seven can help prepare for future success regardless of the presence, path, or complexity of treatment needed.