The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an initial evaluation by age 7. By the second grade, enough jaw development has occurred that we can detect and correct many problems that may be hidden to the untrained eye. Although very few permanent teeth have erupted, this is the ideal time to make changes in the jaw growth to minimize future problems.
The need for early detection is that problems can be corrected in a growing child to help prevent more serious problems from developing. Many parents mistakenly assume that they must wait until a child has all of his or her permanent teeth, only to find out that treatment should have been started much earlier. In some cases, this delay will make extractions or jaw surgery necessary.
An evaluation may reveal that your child’s bite is fine, the jaws line up properly, and there is enough room for all the permanent teeth to erupt, at which point we will continue to check your child periodically to monitor the eruption of permanent teeth and jaw growth to determine when the best time to start treatmentw ould be.
We are so committed to making sure that no problem goes undiagnosed, that we do not charge for these visits. Our goal is to provide each patient with the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time in order to achieve the best results.
Here are some signs or habits that may indicate the need for an orthodontic examination:
1) Early or late loss of baby teeth
2) Difficulty chewing or biting
3) Crowding or misplaced teeth
4) Teeth biting into the cheeks or roof of the mouth
5) Teeth that do not meet in the front (open bite)
6) Jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to each other
7) Finger sucking or pacifier habits continued beyond the age of five
8) "Buck teeth"
9) Upper front teeth grow in behind the bottom front teeth (underbite)
10) Upper front teeth cover more than half of the bottom front teeth when biting together
11) Weak chin or prominent chin
12) Adjoining teeth shifting into positions when a tooth between them has been removed
13) Teeth wearing unevenly, don’t meet in a normal matter, or don’t meet at all
14) Jaws that shift off center when the teeth bite together
15) Excessive spaces between teeth
16) Mouth breathing
Note: These are only some of the more obvious signs. Other signs may be much more subtle and require a trained professional to detect.