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The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children get a check-up with an orthodontist no later than age 7. While your child’s teeth may appear to be straight, there may actually be a problem that needs to be evaluated by an orthodontist.

 An appointment should be scheduled if you recognize any problems such as; difficulty chewing, mouth breathing, speech difficulties, grinding or clenching of teeth, or thumb /finger sucking.

 Many parents assume they must wait until a child has all of their permanent teeth before visiting the orthodontist, only to find that treatment would have been much easier if started earlier. Some orthodontic problems are easier to correct before jaw growth has slowed. The latest research shows that in some cases, guiding jaw growth may decrease a patient’s need for more involved procedures later on.

 “An examination by an orthodontist no later than age seven may be a real advantage,” Dr. Palmer says. “Enough permanent teeth will be present for us to evaluate relationships developing between the teeth, jaws and face. If there seems to be any problems, we can discuss the appropriate time for that child to begin treatment.”

 The exam may simply result in a ‘let’s wait and see’ while the face and jaws continue to grow, resulting in checkups every 3, 6 or 12 months. An early exam can certainly ease a parent’s mind.

 With summer approaching thoughts go to vacations and fun, not orthodontic exams and braces. To avoid missing school or sports we encourage parents to take advantage of summer vacation to have children evaluated for braces. The end of summer tends to fill quickly, so the earlier in summer the better.

 If a child is developmentally ready for orthodontics, we would then schedule to take diagnostic records. Diagnostic records are to determine the best course of treatment and consist of 2 x-rays, photographs and models. Once we have records, a consultation appointment is scheduled to review a treatment plan, financial plans, and scheduling. This process could take between 4 and 6 weeks before braces are put on, that’s why it is so important to take advantage of summer vacation.

 Through an orthodontic evaluation, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile!

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