What happens if your primary dentist doesn’t refer your child to an orthodontist? Can you still take your child to an orthodontist? And if so, at what age?
First Orthodontist Visit: Around Age 7!
You don’t need a referral from your primary dentist to bring your child to your friendly Melbourne or Indian Harbour Beach orthodontist. If your child is unhappy with their smile or how their front teeth look, that is a good enough reason to bring them in for an appointment.
However, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child should be around the age of seven when they come in for that first visit. That’s because some of the first adult molars (permanent teeth) have come in by then. We even call them the “six-year molars.”
Once those first molars have erupted, the orthodontist can tell a lot about how your child’s teeth and bite are going to develop in the coming years. A simple X-ray lets us determine whether the adult teeth are going to be too crowded, have spaces, or will otherwise cause a problem in the years to come. For example, around age seven, the orthodontist can often tell you whether your child will need braces during their teenage years.
But there’s another very good reason to bring your child in for that first appointment at age seven: It might help your child avoid the need for braces at all during their teen years!
We have a lot of “early treatment” options at Melbourne Orthodontics that can correct issues with a child’s teeth before they become a teenager. These methods will often save parents time and costs in the long run. For example, a palatal expander, retainers, or braces on the front teeth can frequently correct orthodontic problems in less than a year. And if the need for braces later on is avoided, that’s a big bonus!
Another thing to keep in mind is that if your dentist does refer your child to us before age seven, we will absolutely evaluate them! If your dentist identifies a potential issue, early intervention is almost always going to provide a better outcome.
Recommended Follow-up Visit: Up Until Age 10!
For your child’s second visit to the orthodontist, we recommend that you wait at least a year after that age seven appointment, but probably no later than age 10. This allows your orthodontist to monitor the progression of your child’s adult teeth as they erupt. It will also tell us with a fair amount of certainty whether your child will need braces in the early teen years.
Most kids have all of their adult teeth somewhere between the ages of 11 and 14, which is the preferred age for treatment with braces. Adults can get braces at any age as well, but the teeth become more stubborn about shifting with braces. The treatment is easiest and most effective during those early teen years.
Some of the treatments that your orthodontist will recommend may be medically necessary, for your child’s oral health. In other cases, we might recommend treatments simply for esthetic purposes, so that a child can have a beautiful smile. In either case, we are willing to work with you to ensure that your goals in orthodontic treatment are met. Cosmetic orthodontic treatments are just as valid as medical treatments in our view, since a child’s ability to smile with confidence has such a big impact on them during their formative years.
Likewise, if your child is one of those rare people that does not need orthodontic treatment, because they just naturally have a great smile, we’ll be able to let you know during these formative-year consultations. Also keep in mind that if we do undertake any sort of orthodontic treatment with your child, we will keep your primary care dentist in the loop. Dentists and orthodontists are different types of specialists, but we work in tandem to ensure the best possible outcome for every patient.
Contact Us for Your Child’s First Orthodontic Appointment
If your child has their first adult molars by age seven, it’s time for their first appointment at the orthodontist in Melbourne or Indian Harbour Beach, FL. Contact us, and we’ll be happy to schedule your first appointment!