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When to See an Orthodontist

When to See an Orthodontist

You may be wondering when is the right time to see an orthodontist. The answer: it depends on your age! For children, early orthodontic intervention is sometimes necessary, so we recommend children see an orthodontist by the age of 7. Adults should see an orthodontist if they want their teeth aligned, if they notice crowding worsening with age, or if tooth position needs to be improved prior to crowns, bridges, or implants.

Early Orthodontic Intervention

young boy having a dental exam

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) formally recommends that all children should see an orthodontist by the age of seven. This is because early intervention can identify potential issues and prevent or mitigate more serious problems later on. For example, if your child has a narrow upper jaw, treatment is more effective for younger children than older children. If not treated, a narrow upper jaw can lead to overcrowding of the teeth and other problems such as impacted teeth. By intervening early, an orthodontist can often help you and your child avoid these problems altogether.

There are other reasons why early intervention is important. For example, children’s bones are still growing and malleable at this age, which means that they respond well to treatment. In some cases this can mean that the orthodontist can accomplish results that would not be possible after the jaw has finished growing. Ultimately, early treatment allows an orthodontist to guide jaw growth, correct harmful oral habits, improve the way lips meet, improve facial appearance, lower the risk of trauma to protruding teeth, and guide the permanent teeth into a better position.

Signs You Need to See an Orthodontist as an Adult

Just because you didn’t see an orthodontist as a child doesn’t mean you can’t see them as an adult. In fact, many adults seek orthodontic treatment later in life and the AAO notes that 1 in 4 orthodontic patients are adults. There are a few signs that you may need to see an orthodontist as an adult:

Crooked Teeth:

This is the most obvious sign that you may need braces. If your teeth are crowded or misaligned, it can cause a number of problems such as difficulty cleaning your teeth and an increased risk of tooth decay. Crooked teeth are also visually unappealing and can lead to chips and cracks in the enamel.

woman holding her jaw in pain

Problems Chewing:

If you have difficulty chewing or your teeth don’t seem to fit together properly when you bite down, this is another sign that you may need braces. A misaligned bite can make biting and chewing excessively difficult and you may notice that it takes you longer to completely chew your food or that you avoid certain foods because they are too hard to chew.

You Grind Your Teeth:

Do you find yourself grinding your teeth often? Not everyone who grinds their teeth is aware of it, however your dentist can detect if you are a grinder. Teeth grinding can often be a sign of stress, however it can also suggest an underlying problem with your bite.  In some cases, people grind their teeth because the body is trying to balance the bite. If you notice that you are grinding your teeth, make an appointment with an orthodontist so that they can  evaluate your bite.

Schedule a Consultation Today

If you think you or your child may need orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with us. We will be happy to assess your individual needs and develop a treatment plan that is right for you. Here is what you can expect during an initial consultation: 

  • A thorough examination of your teeth, gums, and mouth
  • An assessment of your bite
  • Discussion of your orthodontic options
  • A treatment plan customized for you

After the consultation, we will work with you to schedule a time for you to begin treatment. We understand that everyone’s needs are different and we will work with you to ensure that you are comfortable with your treatment plan.

Although there are different types of orthodontic appliances that can be used to align the teeth and bite, two of the most common are metal braces and clear aligners. Metal braces are the more traditional option and are made of high-grade stainless steel. Clear aligners are newer and are made of clear, BPA-free plastic. They are virtually invisible and many people prefer them for that reason. Each type of appliance has its own unique sets of benefits and drawbacks, so your orthodontist will help you decide which will work best for your needs.

In Conclusion

We discussed when to see an orthodontist. We talked about the importance of early orthodontic intervention and why a child should see an orthodontist by the age of seven. Then, we discussed signs that you should see an orthodontist as an adult. Finally, we discussed what to expect at your initial orthodontic consultation and the two most common orthodontic appliances used for treatment.

We hope this article has helped you understand when to see an orthodontist. If you think you or your child may need orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with us. We will be happy to assess your individual needs and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

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