It seems like today's children get braces much earlier than the previous generation. That observation may be due to the fact that orthodontic technology has greatly improved over the last several decades, and there's a greater understanding of orthodontic issues. Therefore, orthodontists pay closer attention to treatment timing, and they've seen that earlier treatment can lead to a more successful outcome. An orthodontist does more than straighten teeth; they influence the emergence of the teeth, and they affect the growth of jaw and facial bones. In this article, parents can learn more about what a children's orthodontist does.

When Should a Child See the Orthodontist?

The AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) suggests that an orthodontic examination for kids should take place at the first sign of problems, but before the age of seven. An orthodontist can point out subtle issues in bones and teeth, and they can install braces for kids early enough to keep problems from growing worse. In some instances, the practitioner can get results that aren't possible once the jaw and facial bones have stopped growing.

Early orthodontic treatment can reduce the risk of trauma to protruding teeth, and it can answer the question "how old do you have to be to get braces?" If a child gets braces early enough, the permanent teeth can be guided into favorable positions as they emerge, and the possibility of appearance-based bullying can be minimized.

Can an Orthodontist do More Than Install Braces?

In addition to the installation of dental appliances, orthodontists can correct over- and underbites. Conditions include correction and guidance of rapid jaw growth, crossbites, malocclusions, permanent tooth impaction and pediatric dentist elimination of habits such as thumb sucking. If a child has lost baby teeth too early or too late, or they have difficulty biting and chewing, they may benefit from an orthodontist's expertise.

Are Extractions Sometimes Necessary?

Despite the fact that timely treatment can increase the chances of non-extractive correction for many pediatric patients, sometimes tooth extraction is necessary to achieve the best outcome. There are other considerations to make, such as facial/lip balance and periodontal status, that influence the decision whether or not to extract a tooth. In some cases, serial extraction can be employed to create a better path for the eruption of permanent teeth.

In the recent past, it was thought of as beneficial for children to wait until they were older to see an orthodontist. However, technology has advanced, and these dental professionals are able to catch problems earlier. By taking their children in for early treatment, parents can set them up for a lifetime of good dental health.