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Orthodontic Problems in Growing Children

For the first post of 2017, I am going to focus on the common orthodontic problems that parents should watch for in their children. Do not worry, I will revisit part 2 of adult orthodontics in the next post.


The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic check-up with an orthodontist at age 7. “Isn’t this too young for braces?” (This is a question I get all the time.) The answer is not a simple yes or no. Yes, in many cases, children are not ready for braces or complete orthodontic treatment at this age. The orthodontist may determine that the child’s bite is okay or she may recommend monitoring the child’s development until it is an appropriate time to begin treatment.   The average age to begin orthodontic treatment is between age 9 and 14.


However, in seeing these children at an early age, orthodontists can detect subtle problems with jaw growth and erupting teeth while the baby teeth are still present. Even though your child’s teeth may appear straight, there could be problems that only an orthodontist can spot. Detecting these problems early may prevent or lessen a more serious problem from developing. Early treatment gives the orthodontist a chance to intervene to guide jaw and facial growth, prevent trauma to protruding teeth, address harmful oral habits, and guide permanent teeth as they erupt.


So what types of problems are orthodontists looking for at this age?

Orthodontists are evaluating a variety of factors in these young patients. They are not only looking at the teeth and bite, but also assessing the child’s facial growth pattern, facial balance, speech patterns, breathing patterns, and harmful habits.   If an abnormality is detected in any of these areas, the orthodontist may be able to intervene early to lessen the extent of the effects in the long-term.


If my child has early treatment, will they need braces again when they are a pre-teen or teenager?

Most of the early treatments do not involve full braces. Many times the treatment is limited and aims to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finish growing. Since each patient is unique, the orthodontist will determine that patient’s ultimate need for full braces treatment in the future. Our goal is to provide the best treatment for each patient at the most appropriate age.


If your child is older than 7 and they have not seen an orthodontist, do not worry. Many dentists also monitor children for these early problems. If they spot any of these problems, they may recommend that you consult an orthodontist. Also, all children have different developmental and treatment needs. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 802-548-4255 or email us questions at

Thank you to the American Association of Orthodontists for portions of the content of our post!

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