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When Should You Make Your Child’s First Orthodontist Appointment?

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Hint: it’s earlier than you might think.

Or more precisely, earlier than I thought. I initially believed that as a mom I’d do what my mom did for me — take me to the orthodontist in my early teens so I could spend junior high (see how long ago that was?) and part of high school in braces.

But things have changed. Experts in orthodontia now know things they didn’t know back when we had junior high schools. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends the first check up no later than age 7. This may not always mean treatment starting then, but certainly there are benefits to early monitoring.

What are these benefits? From an AAO brochure:

  • The orthodontist can spot subtle problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth while baby teeth are still around.
  • The orthodontist can identify any developing problems and monitor to start treatment at the optimal time.
  • Early monitoring and/or treatment may prevent serious problems from developing, making later treatment shorter and less complicated (and, I would assume, less expensive).
  • Early treatment my help the orthodontist
    • guide jaw growth
    • correct harmful oral habits
    • improve appearance
    • guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
  • Early evaluation can give your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile.

The brochure also states that if your child is older than 7, it’s not to late for a check-up.

So how did this work with my children?

Though I didn’t know this recommendation when my kids were 7, I did accidentally find out. My daughter experienced a tooth trauma at age 7. As events unfolded we got plugged in to a pediatric dentist/oral surgeon who recommended we consult an orthodontist for what looked like would be a crowding issue (not related to the trauma).

We thankfully ended up in the Arvada office of Dr Deepa Vyas. My daughter, now 15, has since had three years of monitoring, two years of Phase I (what I call braces prep), two years of Phase II (full on braces), and now, her post braces, straight teeth, please-don’t-lose-those-retainers life.

Fortunately, the way our orthodontist works, there were no fees at all during the monitoring period. We’d just go in every 6 months or so for a quick checkup to see if it was the optimal time to start treatment.

Two years after we first sought counsel from Dr Vyas regarding my daughter’s choppers, my son was also able to take advantage of early interventions, as well. Now 13, he’s well into Phase II, and should be braces-free by the time he starts high school next fall.

Now if I could only find a foolproof way to hang on to those retainers.

For more information or to find an orthodontist near you, visit the American Association of Orthodontists at mylifemysmile.org,

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adoption bookLori Holden, has worn quite a path to the orthodontist’s office over the years. She is mom to a teen daughter and a teen son and she blogs from Denver at LavenderLuz.com. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available in paperback, hard cover, audio and e-book versions. It makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.

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