Why Children Should See an Orthodontist at Age 7

Peter, the patient
Dear Dr. S.,
I have a son who just turned seven. I was recently talking to the mom of one of his friends who said she had just taken her son to the orthodontist. Seven seems too young to me to see an orthodontist. Why would she bring her son in so early?

Sincerely,
Jessica R.

Dr. Michael Stosich
Dear Jessica,
Your friend is following the advice of the American Association of Orthodontists, who recommend that children have their first visit with a certified orthodontist by their seventh birthday.

This is the ideal age because most children by age seven will have a mix of baby teeth and permanent teeth, and this gives us the chance to see how things are progressing. WE can ensure the baby teeth are falling out in the proper order, and the permanent teeth are erupting as they should.

Baby teeth fall out in a particular pattern, and it’s important that your child’s teeth follow this pattern. Otherwise, it can cause problems when the permanent teeth begin to erupt – they can come in at the wrong location, causing crowding or spacing issues that will require orthodontic work.

While many patients won’t require orthodontic work at this age, others can benefit from what we call early interceptive treatment. By beginning treatment at the time it will have the most impact, we can actually lessen the severity of future orthodontic issues, making any future work easier and quicker. You might actually be saving yourself time and money in the long run by having your child see a certified orthodontist today.

If your child doesn’t need work yet, we’ll continue to monitor the growth of their jaw, and the way the baby teeth fall out and the permanent teeth erupt. By maintaining these monitoring appointments, we can pinpoint the exact time to begin treatment to ensure your child has the healthiest and most functional smile possible.

If your son is seven, it’s time to schedule that orthodontic consultation!

Sincerely,
Dr. S.


Sarah, the patient
Dear Dr. S.,
My nephew is only seven, but my sister said he is beginning orthodontic treatment. What could possibly be needed that young? Should my daughter be seeing an orthodontist – she’s 8, but I thought braces weren’t needed until she was a teenager.
Sincerely,
Justin H.
Dr. Michael Stosich
Dear Justin,
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have their first visit with a certified orthodontist by the age of seven. It may seem young, but it’s actually the perfect time to begin monitoring your child’s jaw growth, and the pattern of their baby teeth and permanent teeth.

Without treating your niece, I can’t be sure of what work is being done, but there are several ways orthodontic treatment can help at that age.

A trained orthodontist can spot subtle issues with the way your child’s jaw is growing, or the way permanent teeth are erupting, even while there are still baby teeth in the mouth. By the age of seven, we can tell if your child has an issue with crowding and spacing that interceptive treatment will be able to correct.

At this young age, your children’s mouths are developing at a much faster rate than they will in the future. That means any problems evident now could actually worsen over time, but it also means that early treatment can be even more effective. By catching these developmental problems on time, we can shorten treatment time, and in some cases, even eliminate the need for full braces in the future.

Once your child’s jaw has stopped growing, it becomes more difficult to correct some orthodontic issues, so beginning checkups with an orthodontist early allows us to begin treatment at the time when it will have the most impact.

Early treatment allows us to guide jaw growth, lower the risk of trauma associated with front teeth that protrude, correct harmful oral habits, improve the appearance of the smile, guide the permanent teeth to their ideal locations, and improve the way the lips meet. Beginning a relationship with an orthodontist by the age of seven gives your child the best opportunity for a healthy and healthy smile.

Sincerely,
Dr. S.

AUTHOR: Michael Stosich

Michael S. Stosich, DMD, MS, MS, is a specialist orthodontist for children and adults with subspecialty expertise in robotically assisted orthodontics. Dr. Stosich serves as the orthodontic director at the University of Chicago's cleft lip and palate clinic and craniofacial anomalies clinic, which treats complex pediatric craniofacial anomalies.