Here at Bluebird Orthodontics, we’re proud to create beautiful smiles for patients of all ages! While we treat a lot of teens in our Commack, NY office, we see our fair share of adults and children, too. In fact, we often hear from parents who are wondering when is the best time to schedule their child’s first orthodontic visit. In line with the American Association of Orthodontists, we recommend that children have an initial evaluation by about the age of seven. This can come as a surprise since kids that age still have plenty of baby teeth left, but that’s one reason we encourage these visits!
Early evaluations are valuable for orthodontists like Dr. Dorie Frank. Using certain dental “landmarks” that are present in young children, she’s able to identify any potential issues present as well as any that could cause problems down the road. This allows her to plan the right kind of treatment at the most optimal time for the best results! Doing so gives children an excellent start towards a lifetime of healthy smiles. If you have a child ready for their first orthodontic evaluation, we’d love to meet you both and see how things are looking so far! Keep reading below to learn more about what you can expect from your first visit to our Commack office.
What happens during an early orthodontic evaluation?
During your child’s first evaluation, our primary focus will be assessing their overall oral health and development. Dr. Frank will also look for anything that could indicate treatment may be necessary, either now or in the future. Diagnosing these problems earlier in life gives us the chance to correct them before they become more serious, and there are several common issues she’ll check for as she evaluates your child’s mouth. These include the following:
Anterior Open Bites and Deep Bites
These bite problems occur vertically. In bites that are too deep, the top teeth completely cover the bottom ones when biting, which can indicate a small lower jaw. With an open bite, the overall bite doesn’t overlap enough.
Crooked teeth can impact the cosmetic appearance of a child’s smile and they’re also more difficult to clean. They’re even more susceptible to uneven wear and tear as well. If these issues are left untreated over time, they can eventually affect both the shape and position of the surrounding gum tissue.
Front teeth that noticeably protrude are often seen as primarily a cosmetic concern, but they can also increase the risk of potential injury to the permanent teeth and affect a child’s speech.
A posterior crossbite can cause crowding and may cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other so the top and bottom teeth can fit together. A narrow upper jaw can also be associated with a narrow nasal passage.
These problems can occur when a tooth is lost prematurely, where one has never developed, or if a child has teeth that are too small or spaced too far apart.
Even though children lose their baby teeth, they’re still the placeholders for our permanent teeth. As such, they matter more than you might imagine. They also tend to fall out in a pretty specific order. If Dr. Frank notices any significant deviation from this pattern, it may signal a developmental issue that requires further attention.
Most children have at least four permanent molars and up to four permanent incisors by around the age of seven. Any more or less than this could indicate a potential problem with missing, crowding, or extra teeth.
Underbites can be caused by problems with either the teeth or jaws. This usually involves the lower jaw growing too far forward, or the upper jaw growing deficiently.
What happens after a child’s orthodontic evaluation?
Contrary to what many parents believe, an orthodontic evaluation won’t always lead to an immediate recommendation for treatment. This actually happens in only a small percentage of cases involving young children! We still love these visits, however, since they allow us to use a proactive approach to a child’s orthodontic care, providing them with the specific care they need when they need it the most.
This kind of approach is sometimes referred to as interceptive orthodontics or Phase I treatment. Dr. Frank tends to recommend interceptive orthodontics in order to achieve the kind of results we may not be able to obtain once a child’s face and jaw have stopped growing. That’s because Phase I treatment encourages proper development of the jaw. In turn, this helps to:
- better accommodate the permanent teeth when they come in
- improve how the upper and lower jaws fit together
- reduce the risk of damage due to untreated issues
During Phase I treatment at Bluebird Orthodontics, we’ll often use a fixed or removable orthodontic appliance to help correct poor jaw growth, create space for developing teeth, and allow the facial muscles to develop more normally. These appliances may be used with one or both jaws.
Once this initial phase of treatment is complete, we’ll remove any fixed appliance and begin a period of observation. During this time, Dr. Frank will monitor their mouth every 4-6 months or so to keep an eye on how things are developing. She may also give them a retainer to help keep their teeth stable until the next phase of treatment.
Most of our Phase I patients will eventually need Phase II treatment to continue the stabilizing process. This can be accomplished with traditional braces or clear aligners, which will move the teeth into their final positions. With Bluebird Orthodontics, your child will be left with a straight smile that’s not only beautiful but fully functional, too!
Get your child’s smile off to a great start with Bluebird Orthodontics
Scheduling an early orthodontic evaluation in Commack is one of the easiest—and best!—things you can do for your child’s smile. But what if they’re one of the many patients we see who don’t require immediate treatment? We’ll continue to monitor them as they grow, building a strong relationship, healthy oral habits, and a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime!
Do you have a young child ready for their first orthodontic visit? Get in touch today to schedule their FREE evaluation with Dr. Frank at our Commack office and take the first step towards their healthiest, happiest smile!