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Why Does My Child Need to See an Orthodontist?


The American Dental Association recommends that every child receive an orthodontic screening evaluation by age 7. If there are concerns about jaw growth, tooth eruption and/or oral development, parents and orthodontists can initiate preventive measures (such as Phase I/interceptive Treatment) while your child’s facial and oral structure is still developing and the problems become more severe.

The reason for the age of 7 being chosen is that critical teeth that can be used for assistance with orthodontic correction are not available before this age. Additionally, the eruption of the adult incisors (front teeth) is usually the most problematic area for children as the adult front teeth are vastly larger than the primary/baby teeth.

Circumstances for Earlier Intervention

How do you know if your child needs to see an orthodontist? Watch for concerns like:

  • Their tongue pressing against or through their front teeth as they swallow.
  • The top and bottom front teeth have an open space between them whenever your child bites down.
  • Continued thumb-sucking or finger-sucking.
  • Signs of speech impediments or delayed speech development.
  • Digestive concerns or eating difficulties.
  • Having teeth that are too crowded or touch side-by-side with their neighboring teeth.
  • Crossbite (upper teeth inside the lower) or a chin deviation to the left or right.
  • Deviation of the middle of the upper or lower midline (center of front teeth)
  • Loss of an odd (as in 5 lower front teeth by age 8 instead of 4) number of baby teeth as this is a sign of severe crowding.
  • A family history of crooked and crowded teeth.
  • Premature tooth loss including injury to the teeth or jaws
  • Anatomically short or narrow jaws.
  • Sleep apnea or snoring (sign of small jaws)

Why Choose an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists are specialists when it comes to oral development, growth modification, and orthognathic corrections of the teeth and jaw bones. Their training and resources allow them to offer holistic, minimally-invasive corrections that limit your child’s need for extensive treatment or surgery as they get older.

What is the Best Age to Get Braces?

Braces can be worn by people of all ages (including adults). Some children may need braces at 7 or 8 years of age if there is a problem that must be intercepted for the teeth and jaws to develop correctly. Ideally, we would like to treat children between the ages of 11 and 15 and just one time in a comprehensive manner. Those children that have treatment recommendations at a younger age would not be eligible for a streamlined and predictable comprehensive treatment at age 11-15 without intervention. The best age for braces will depend on your child’s specific oral anatomy and problem list.

We encourage you to book a consultation for your child at Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan to learn more about how we can help.

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