The American Association of Orthodontists strongly recommends that children undergo orthodontic screening by an orthodontic specialist by the time a child is seven years old. An orthodontic specialist is a dentist with additional graduate-level training and board certification, who specializes in diagnosing and treating facial skeletal growth deformities as well as bite and teeth related misalignment.
By the age of seven, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles.
Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later on. The benefits of early treatment may include:
Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
Identifying and treating abnormal tongue posture
Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
Preserving space for unerupted teeth
Reducing the need for tooth removal
Reducing treatment time with braces
Reducing the complexity and cost of future treatments
When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.