Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why Your Child Should Visit an Orthodontist by Age 7

As an orthodontist, I am frequently asked, "At what age should my child first visit an orthodontist?" The answer I provide often surprises parents. Even though people often associate braces or Invisalign with the teenage or adult years, the reality is that boys and girls need to see an orthodontist much sooner. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children have a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7.

Although a young child's teeth may appear fine to you, there may be a developmental problem involving physiological development or dentofacial orthopedics that only an orthodontist will detect. In non-medical terminology, this means that we look at the way a child's jaw growth, bone structure, and emerging teeth will impact a child's development and appearance later in life. In many cases, orthodontists can catch subtle problems while some baby teeth are still present so we can monitor or treat them. We can often identify these conditions without exposing a child to x-rays.

In many pre-teen examinations, I simply recommend appointments to monitor the child's growth and development every six months or year. In this way, I can ensure that treatment begins at the best possible time to achieve ideal results in an efficient manner. However, in some instances, early treatment around age 7 is required to prevent more serious problems from developing or to achieve results that may not be possible without surgery once the face and jaws have finished growing...

I know that patients generally come to me to create a beautiful and confident smile, but there is a lot more that goes into orthodontics. In fact, a kid's check-up at an early age can give an orthodontist the chance to:

· guide jaw growth
· lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
· correct harmful oral habits
· improve facial appearance later in life
· guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
· improve the way lips meet
· avoid the need for corrective surgery as an adult
· make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated

Beyond the potential health and treatment benefits of early intervention, visiting an orthodontist early in life gives you and your child the opportunity to build a relationship of comfort and trust with your orthodontist before beginning treatment. I find that this familiarity reduces any fear or concern that a child might have about getting braces or Invisalign Teen when the time comes. Similarly, it helps build your confidence that you have selected the right orthodontist to perfect your child's smile.

We all want to protect our child's precious smile. Younger children don't always need treatment, but early observation and routine monitoring can help protect your child's smile as it develops. Through an early orthodontic evaluation, you'll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile.

Karen Conn, DMD, MS is an orthodontist at Udis & Conn Orthodontics (Jenkintown, PA), where she specializes in Invisalign and braces for children, teens and adults. She is also the author of the CONNmunications Blog. Dr. Conn received her undergraduate and doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her residency in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics at Temple University, where she also earned a master's degree in Oral Biology.
Udis & Conn Orthodontics proudly serves Jenkintown, Abington, Elkins Park, Glenside, Cheltenham, Wyncote, Huntingdon Valley and the surrounding areas in Pennsylvania. To learn more about Udis & Conn Orthodontics, visit Contact the office today (215-576-5805) to schedule a complimentary consultation.
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