The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that every child receive an orthodontic screening by the age of seven. Some may wonder why it is necessary for such a young child who still has their baby teeth to be seen by an orthodontist, but early diagnosis and treatment can have many benefits such as:
- Improved speech.
- The ability to guide and monitor facial growth.
- Correcting habits such as thumb-sucking and tongue thrust.
- By straightening crooked teeth they will be easier to clean and prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
- The ability to guide the path of erupting teeth.
- Prevention of extractions and surgical procedures later on.
- May reduce the amount of treatment time when the patient is older.
- Improved self-esteem.
There is no set age when children require orthodontics. The treatment plan will depend on individual needs. For example, kids with cleft palates get orthodontic appliances before their first teeth erupt.
An experienced orthodontist, such as Dr. Hakim, can identify problems in the way that the face, jaw and teeth are developing in children sometimes as young as 2 or 3 years old. Dr. Hakim pays special attention to the airway and the effect that it could have on growth and development of jaw, and the possible relationship with snoring and sleep apnea. By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt and establish the back bite. During this time, Dr. Hakim can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side relationships of the teeth. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile
If Dr. Hakim decides that early treatment is not necessary, we will continue to see the patient on a regular schedule to monitor their dental and facial development and determine when it is the appropriate time to begin orthodontic treatment.