As baby teeth are shed and permanent teeth grow in, your child will go from being a kid to being an adult in terms of their teeth. This is a crucial phase in their development where orthodontics play a role in their future oral health.
Orthodontics can be very beneficial to patients at any age, but most treatments are focused on addressing a key area of tooth development in children and teens. As a parent, how do you know when it’s time for child’s first orthodontic screening? The answer can vary, depending on their needs, but regular check-ups at your dentist will let you know. When the time is right, ask your dentist at Arkansas Family Dental about your child’s teeth before you visit an orthodontist.
When Should Your Child Get a Screening?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends getting an orthodontics screening by age 7, but we recommend that you bring your child in for their first screening by age 12. Early intervention may be beneficial to some children in special cases, but we feel it is best to address bite issues once more of the child’s permanent teeth are in place and the jaw is more developed.
While comprehensive treatment might not actually occur until after 12, it is a good idea to schedule a screening with your dentist to ensure the child’s bite development is on track. Then, regular dental check-ups can reveal when the right time to seek orthodontic treatment—such as braces, retainers, or other appliances—will be for your child.
If your child does experience problems earlier than age 12, it is recommended that you discuss your concerns with their dentist as soon as they arise. This is often the case for pronounced instances of crossbites and protruding front teeth, which are usually due to an overbite.
What Happens During a Screening?
During an orthodontic screening, a technician will take X-rays of your child’s teeth and jaws to determine the state of their growth and development. Then, they will also ask your child to bite down so they can examine the visual appearance and function of their bite. The dentist will ask questions about any problems chewing or swallowing, if their jaw ever click or pops, and if they ever experience pain or discomfort.
If your dentist does diagnose a bite problem, they will make a recommendation for retainers, expanders, braces, or other treatments. Molds can be taken to take an impression of the whole mouth so appliances can be built to fit.
How Long Will Your Child Need Orthodontic Treatment?
Depending on what your dentist recommends, your child’s orthodontic treatment could last months or years. Braces, for example, are typically worn for one to three years. After braces are taken off, many patients will then need to wear retainers regularly for the rest of their lives to maintain results.
Some parents may hold off on asking about orthodontics for their child because they do not want their child to live with the pain and expense of head gear or braces. Fortunately, orthodontic treatment in Little Rock has been developed well beyond these old school methods and convenient financing options are available in most cases.
If your child is approaching the recommended age of 12 or has early bite issues, schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening at Arkansas Family Dental by calling us at 501-683-8886.