Generally, when people think of braces, they envision gangly teenagers with a mouth-full of metal. Parents with young children in elementary school probably don’t even think about scheduling a trip to the orthodontist since braces seem like they are many years down the road.

Despite the fact that braces probably won’t be necessary until your child has most, or all, of their permanent teeth, orthodontists encourage parents to bring their child in for their first appointment long before they reach their teenage years. Typically, all children should have a visit with an orthodontist by the time that they are seven-years-old.

Why So Young?

While children who are seven or younger are far from being old enough to get braces, there are several benefits to having their teeth examined early. We’ve listed several reasons that getting your child to an orthodontist early is within their best interest:

1. Understand How Teeth are Developing. With the use of x-rays and other technology, orthodontists can develop a good understanding of the ways that permanent teeth are developing and how the jaw is forming. This knowledge will give a heads up on treatment options and the need for future braces.

2. Use Appliances to Prevent Problems. A good orthodontist wants your child to have the best smile with the least problems. With the use of early appliances, orthodontists can seek to reduce problems by creating extra room for crowded teeth, helping the jaw grow correctly, and making sure that spots are kept open for teeth that haven’t come in yet.

3. Stop Problems Before They Start. During a child’s early years, their teeth and jaws are just developing. This is the best time for an orthodontist to identify and stop problems before they have a chance to develop.

4. Recognize Missing Teeth. There are many genetic issues that leave children missing certain teeth or even developing more teeth than usual. Through an orthodontic exam, it is possible to recognize this and prepare accordingly.

While early orthodontic visits may not be able to completely eliminate the need for braces, getting your child to the orthodontist before their seventh birthday will help to limit the amount of treatment necessary in the future. By reducing the problems that your child will experience, you can expect them to have an easier, shorter, and less-painful experience with braces when they are older.