The Big Mouth Blog

Why all children should have an orthodontic exam by age 7

While it might seem logical to wait until your child’s permanent teeth come in before they see an orthodontist, you might be making a big mistake.

Here’s why.

This is a one of my patients whose parents thought they were doing the right thing by waiting until she was 11 before bringing her in for her first orthodontic exam. Upon examination, it was immediately discovered that something was very wrong with her bite (and not just the space between her front teeth).

Counting the teeth shows that tooth number 5 on each side appears to be missing, and there is no space for them.
The upper molars (6) have erupted in the wrong position, much too far forward of where they normally should be. The blue lines show how far off the molars are. If aligned correctly, the blue lines would meet. These molars have taken up all of the space and prevented the number 5’s from emerging.
The X-Ray confirms that the teeth which appear to be missing (the “5’s”) are actually present, but impacted. As in the above figures, the yellow arrows indicate where these teeth should have erupted.

What to do?

If detected early enough, an orthodontist would’ve been able to prevent this problem by creating a space to allow an impacted tooth to be brought into the arch. Unfortunately, this would be very difficult for a child at age 11. For the patient above, extraction of both impacted teeth (the “5’s”) and braces to align the upper and lower teeth was necessary.

An exam at age 7-8 does not automatically mean braces!

An orthodontic exam at age 7-8 is the best way to prevent this and other problems. The good news? Some orthodontists don’t charge for initial exams, and a referral from a dentist isn’t required. So if you have a child approaching age 7, be sure to schedule an exam to prevent problems down the road.

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