How Soon Should My Child Have an Orthodontic Evaluation?

child's orthodontic care

Answering Your 8 Common Questions About Your Child’s 1st Orthodontist Visit

Over 4 million Americans wear braces, with most of these individuals being kids and teenagers. For some families, a child growing up and getting braces is even seen as a rite of passage. But for other families new to the scene, figuring out if and when your child needs to see an orthodontist can be a bit confusing. If you’re feeling a little lost when it comes to orthodontic care for your child, don’t worry. At The Tooth Doc, we’re happy to answer all of your questions and help you with your child’s dental care.

To help out parents who are new to children’s orthodontic care, we’ve gathered 8 super common questions we’re often asked and answered them for you here. And remember, if you still have questions, all you need to do is give our office a call.

1. Does my child need to see an orthodontist if their teeth are healthy and straight?

The answer is yes. While our general dentists focus on keeping your child’s teeth healthy and decay-free, orthodontists are trained, experienced, knowledgeable to evaluate more than just your child’s teeth. Your orthodontist can point out trouble spots and even predict potential teeth alignment issues that could pop up as your child’s adult teeth come in.

2. When should I schedule my child’s first orthodontist evaluation?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends kids get their first orthodontic check-up (evaluation) no later than age seven.

This might seem really young, but it’s actually the ideal time for an orthodontist to take a look at how your child’s adult teeth are coming in and check their bite alignment. In most cases, your child’s orthodontist will still wait until your child is around 10 or so before pursuing treatment if needed. The exception would be if your orthodontist finds a severe issue that needs immediate treatment.

3. What orthodontic treatment options are there for my child?

There are a number of different orthodontic treatments for kids, with metal braces and Invisalign being the most common options. The Tooth Doc offers self-ligating braces and Invisalign.

Self-ligating braces are very similar to traditional braces. The only difference is self-ligating braces don’t require the use of elastic bands. And Invisalign is well-known for its subtle, clear aligners.

Your child’s orthodontist will be able to help you decide which is the best choice after an evaluation.

4. Is it true that my child can get Invisalign instead of metal braces?

Invisalign is an option for children, but your child’s age and the severity of their teeth placement issues are factors in whether or not your child is a candidate.

Invisalign is typically reserved for older children and cases in which their teeth only require moderate repositioning. For example, if there are very large gaps between your child’s teeth or their teeth are leaning too far inwards or outwards, Invisalign may not be the best option.

5. Which option is better for my child—Invisalign or traditional braces?

If your child is a candidate for either Invisalign or traditional braces, then your decision will come down to what you and your child prefer.

Invisalign is a great choice for children who are in band and play a woodwind or brass instrument since they won’t have metal braces getting in the way. It’s also ideal for children who play sports, especially full-contact sports, as metal braces can damage lips if a mouthguard isn’t used.

Metal braces are still preferred by many parents since their kids can’t remove them. This offers more peace of mind whereas some parents worry Invisalign aligners might be left out for too long or forgotten at home when they leave for school.

Your orthodontist will help you and your child pick out the best option.

6. Can I put off getting my child braces for a few years until they’re older?

Whether or not your child’s braces can be delayed really comes down to your child’s unique dental needs.

If only minimal repositioning is required, your child might be able to wait until they are a little older, say around 12 to 14 years of age before getting braces. However, like most forms of dental care or orthodontic care, the sooner the treatment is done, the better.

Between the ages of around 10 to 14, teeth are much easier to reposition as the jaw is still growing. Waiting until your child is well into their teens or college-age doesn’t mean treatment isn’t possible, but it does mean it might take longer.

Additionally, properly aligned teeth have a lower risk of decay. If your child has a history of cavities or struggles with brushing and flossing regularly, then the sooner they receive orthodontic care the better for their oral health.

7. My child needs braces but doesn’t want them. How can I convince him/her that they’re important?

As a parent, you only want the best for your child and that includes making sure they have a beautiful, healthy smile. However, that doesn’t mean your child or teen is going to be on board with the idea of braces.

Braces are a big lifestyle change, and older kids and teens tend to be concerned about how they’re going to look with braces.

Remind your child or teen that braces are only temporary and getting them on now means they’ll have a stunning smile to share later in high school, college, etc. You can also check out social media tags, like #braces, to see pictures of confident kids and teens rocking the look. Encourage your child to pay attention to the number of kids in their school who also have braces. They might be surprised at the number of other children and teens receiving orthodontic treatment.

8. How long will my child need to wear braces and what happens after they come off?

Most kids wear braces for 18 to 24 months. Since every child is an individual, it’s hard to pinpoint how long braces will be needed until you’ve seen an orthodontist for an evaluation.

Once your child’s braces come off, it’s important that they carry through with wearing their retainer as directed by their orthodontist. After all, the last thing either of you wants to happen is putting the time and expense of braces to waste. Teeth will shift back without a retainer so this is a critical step.

Come see The Tooth Doc’s orthodontist for your child’s evaluation.

The Tooth Doc is happy to have Dr. Leslie Ellingson, DDS, MS on our team. This means that The Tooth Doc offers complete orthodontic care for all of our patients, including your children.

When you’re ready to schedule your child’s first orthodontic evaluation, give our office a call or use our online appointment request form to book a visit with Dr. Ellingson. Don’t forget we offer comprehensive dental care so if you or your child is also due for a cleaning or you have a dental concern, our team is ready to help.