Timing is Everything
Is it Time for Your Child’s First Visit to the Orthodontist?
Just as feeding and fertilizing your lawn for the spring and summer has to be timed just right, your child’s first visit to the orthodontist should be timed just right.
At Hatcher Orthodontics, we are always asked “when would you like to see my child for their first visit”? The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first visit with an orthodontist by age 7. Although every child’s development is different, in most children the first molars have typically started to emerge by age 6. This, along with other developmental markers, lets us see the basic alignment of the teeth, from front to back and side to side. While treatment for common orthodontic problems typically begins around age 9-14, when all the baby teeth are gone and many of the permanent ones are in place; there are some conditions that are much easier to treat if they’re caught early, when a child’s natural growth processes are going full speed ahead.
One of the most common conditions treated early is a severe crossbite, where the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. To treat this problem, a device called a palatal expander can be used, which gradually and painlessly widens the upper jaw; it’s especially effective when the jaw itself hasn’t fully developed. If we wait too long, a more complicated treatment – or even oral surgery – might be required to correct the problem.
It is important to note that in most cases, an early evaluation isn’t necessarily followed by early treatment. Intervention or first phase cases account for only about 10% of most orthodontic practices total active patients. We recognize if orthodontic treatment isn’t needed early, we simply monitor your child’s growth patterns until we see that it is time for treatment to begin. This is why Dr. Hatcher believes in providing a complimentary orthodontic initial consultation and complimentary visits to monitor children’s growth. These visits also build trust and rapport between the child and the doctor and the orthodontic team. This has always been one of the best things about orthodontics, besides playing a role in a beautiful smile, we get to know our patients and families over the years and consider them all a part of our Hatcher Orthodontics Family.
So remember, when considering a first time orthodontic consultation – timing is everything!