When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists in Grand Rapids MI

Our Grand Rapids orthodontists understand that you may be cautious about investing in years of orthodontic treatment for your child.

However, starting orthodontic treatment at the right age can help you save money in the long run and ensure your child achieves their best smile.

Here’s what you need to know about taking your child to an orthodontist for the first time.

Does My Child Need an Orthodontist?

The American Academy of Orthodontists recommends you take your child to see an orthodontist no later than age 7. While this may seem too young, our orthodontists can spot small issues with your child’s bite and teeth alignment before they turn into major problems.

Even if your child’s teeth appear to be straight, it’s still a good idea to schedule an appointment with one of our orthodontists at either our Grand Rapids or Grandville office. Your child’s bite or teeth alignment may change over time, which is why we may recommend your child see us periodically as their jaw grows and permanent teeth erupt.

What is Phase 1 Orthodontic Treatment?

The earliest age we start orthodontic treatment is typically age 7. Since your child’s jaw is still growing at this age, we’re able to correct a lot of issues that become more difficult to treat later in life.

For example, one of our orthodontists may recommend a palate expander to expand your child’s upper arch of teeth. This orthodontic appliance works to create more space in the jaw for permanent teeth to erupt without crowding.

Many parents choose Phase 1 orthodontic treatment for their children so they don’t have to spend as much time in braces during middle and high school. Since a fair amount of children play a contact sport during their teenage years, it’s a good idea to start orthodontic treatment as soon as possible so front teeth don’t protrude and increase their risk of oral injury.

Potential advantages of Phase 1 orthodontic treatment include:

  • More room created for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Development of healthy, open nasal airways
  • Facial symmetry thanks to influence of proper jaw growth
  • Reduced risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserved space for unerupted front teeth
  • Less need for tooth removal
  • Reduced overall treatment time with braces

What is the Orthodontic Resting Period?

Once Phase 1 orthodontic treatment is complete, your child will have a one to two year break before starting Phase 2. During this time, the rest of your child’s permanent teeth will erupt and the jaw will continue to grow.

Since your child already went through Phase 1 orthodontic treatment, the positions of their permanent teeth will be better than if they hadn’t worn braces. For example, expanding the palate would have made room for your child’s adult teeth to erupt without crowding.

What is Phase 2 Orthodontic Treatment?

Phase 2 orthodontic treatment starts after your child has all their permanent teeth. Patients who went through Phase 1 tend to spend less time wearing braces than if they had started later in life. Orthodontic treatment not only straightens teeth, but helps open your child’s nasal airways for better breathing and improved sleep.

Start Your Child’s Smile Journey Today

Our Grand Rapids, MI, orthodontists offer a range of treatments to help your child achieve their best smile. To request a free consultation and learn more about braces for kids, call Armbrecht & Wierenga Orthodontics at (616) 455-4800.

This blog post has been updated.