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Experts Corner

Dentistry

Orthodontic Evaluations for Children
by Jennifer Holtzman, DDS, Executive Director, ToothWoman Network

Jennifer Holtzman, DDSQ. Is it true that every child should visit an orthodontist for an evaluation? What age should my child be for an orthodontic evaluation?

A. No, every child does not need to see an orthodontist. Usually your child's dentist will suggest that your child see an orthodontist if it seems that your child's teeth don't come together as they should, to determine what the cause of the problem is and how best to deal with it. However, if you are concerned, and your child's dentist hasn't suggested that you seek an orthodontic evaluation, speak to your child's dentist. Feel free to ask for a referral to an orthodontist. And then speak to the orthodontist's office about your child's particular situation. It's better to find out that your child needs to grow and mature more before an accurate evaluation can be made, than to discover you've waited too long before seeking that consultation.

The optimal age to begin treatment can vary tremendously depending on your child's individual situation. For some bite problems, appliances may need to be placed between 6-8 years of age. For other conditions, it may mean beginning orthodontic treatment after all your child's permanent teeth are in. For still other situations, treatment may start soon after your child's baby teeth are in place. The overall concern is to minimize tooth, jaw and facial structure problems allowing your child to speak, eat and smile comfortably with a minimum of trauma to teeth, gums and psyche.

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