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Orthodontist visit should be part of growing up

A visit to the orthodontist before age 7 can help identify and correct problems with your child's teeth. Proper treatment may improve your child's appearance and self-confidence, and help prevent health problems.

For many kids, wearing braces is part of growing up.

While braces may be no fun, they do several important things for your child. Perhaps most noticeably, they can improve his or her appearance—and that can boost confidence and self-esteem.

But braces benefit physical health as well. Crowded and crooked teeth are hard to clean. When teeth aren't cared for correctly, it increases the chances of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss.

An abnormal bite can also affect speech and chewing, cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel, and cause jaw problems, according to the American Dental Association.

Kids benefit from early checkups

Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in treating dental irregularities. They work to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and to help people's faces have a balanced appearance.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children see an orthodontist no later than age 7. Usually, by this age, the orthodontist can identify current and potential future problems.

Some problems are easier to correct if treated early. Screening helps the orthodontist determine what, if any, treatment is necessary, as well as the best time for treatment.

According to the AAO, signs your child may need an earlier screening include:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth.
  • Difficulty with chewing or biting.
  • Mouth breathing.
  • Thumb or finger sucking.
  • Crowded or misplaced teeth.
  • Jaws that are too far forward or back.
  • Biting of the cheek or the roof of the mouth.
  • Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all.
  • Jaws or teeth that seem out of proportion to the rest of the face.

Where to turn

If you need to find an orthodontist, ask your family dentist for a referral.

Reviewed 6/11/2022

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