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At What Age Should My Child Visit an Orthodontist
By Roger Taylor  

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit an Orthodontist by the age of 7 years. At this age, the permanent teeth are erupting and the bite can be evaluated. Although treatment at this age is often not indicated, an evaluation can give parents the peace of mind in knowing that the teeth and jaws are developing properly. If treatment is not indicated, the Orthodontist will place the child on observation and schedule him or her to be seen periodically to monitor the growth and development of the jaws as well as the eruption of the teeth.

Save on All Your Dental care Needs!Many times, however, early treatment is indicated and can prevent more serious complications or a more involved treatment at a later time (i.e. extraction of permanent teeth). This early intervention is often referred to as Phase I treatment because it is started prior to the eruption of all the permanent teeth.

Some of the conditions where Phase I treatment is indicated include: an over or under developing jaw, moderate to severe crowding of the teeth, spacing of teeth causing the blockage of unerupted permanent teeth, a habit (such as finger sucking or a tongue thrust), premature loss of baby teeth requiring space maintenance, and/or low self esteem due to an embarrassing smile. Phase I treatment usually lasts from 12-18 months and can include an appliance (such as a headgear or expander) and/or limited braces. After early treatment is completed, retainers are issued to hold the teeth and maintain space as further teeth erupt.

Once the remaining permanent teeth erupt (at the age of 11 or 12) braces are usually placed, and this is referred to as Phase II treatment. If the remaining permanent teeth erupt into a good position, it is sometimes possible that a second Phase will not be needed.