When Should Kids Get Their First Orthodontic Evaluation?

Pediatric dentists play a key role in monitoring the health and development of your child’s smile. One of the most significant aspects of orofacial development is how your child’s teeth bite (occlude) together.

Both orthodontic experts and pediatric dentists recommend that all children have an orthodontic evaluation by the time they reach age 7. At this point in development, your child most likely has a mixed dentition of both primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth. As such, it’s usually the earliest that a children’s dentist can detect orthodontic complications or prevent them from developing in the first place.

Who Can Perform an Orthodontic Evaluation?

An orthodontic consultation can be completed during your child’s routine checkup and dental exam. As such, it doesn’t add any extra time to the appointment you already have scheduled.

A pediatric dentist will evaluate tooth development, spacing, and biting patterns to determine if any type of early intervention is necessary. If it is, interceptive treatments can be started in the dental practice to minimize more complex orthodontic needs later on.

What Does an Orthodontic Evaluation Consist Of?

Here are a few of the things your pediatric dentist will look for during an orthodontic evaluation:

  • The way upper and lower teeth occlude together
  • Open, cross, or under bites
  • Tooth eruption patterns
  • Premature tooth loss
  • Spacing concerns
  • Oral habits, such as tongue thrusting or thumb sucking
  • X-rays to detect missing or unerupted teeth
  • Placement of developing permanent teeth

Advantages of Children’s Orthodontic Screenings

The earlier orthodontic problems can be diagnosed, the more effective your pediatric dentist can help you to correct them. In many cases, interceptive therapies minimize the length of time that a child may have to wear braces later on.

For example, if a tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer can be attached to the next tooth, preventing the space from closing-in due to the teeth shifting. This may not seem like a serious concern, but it can directly impact whether the developing adult tooth erupts correctly or becomes impacted due to crowding. A few years down the road without a space maintainer, complex surgery or lengthy orthodontic work may be the only option.

Ask Your Pediatric Dentist for a Screening

If your child is coming up on their 7th birthday or you have a checkup planned soon, make sure to discuss an orthodontic screening with your family’s pediatric dentist to get the answers you need.

About the Author

I am a family dentist who treats children as well as adults. Making smiles people love, extreme makeovers and complex dental reconstruction is our niche including implants, TMJ, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. As a participant in the blog, I will be offering dental perspectives on pediatric safety and health care options on a regular basis. I can be reached at www.suwaneedental.com. Blessings to all! Dr Williams is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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