The Right Age for a First Visit

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Your child has had lots of “firsts”. First tooth, first steps, first words, first day of school. Now it is time for another first. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a first visit to the orthodontist at age 7.

Why age 7? At this age, the first set of permanent molars (the 6-year-old molars) have erupted. Most children have lost their 8 primary incisors and the permanent incisors have erupted. An early visit allows Dr. Gulland to evaluate the developing teeth and jaws.

Not all children need treatment at age 7, but an exam at this age helps identify problems that shouldn’t wait. If treatment is not indicated at age 7 you will have peace of mind and your child will enter our “Growth and Development” program. This means on a regular basis, usually every 6 or 12 months, we will see your child to evaluate jaw growth and tooth eruption so we can initiate treatment at the most opportune time for your child’s unique, individual needs. The initial exam and subsequent Growth and Development appointments are always free.

While Dr. Gulland’s treatment philosophy is conservative, meaning he would prefer to initiate treatment when all the permanent teeth have erupted, there are some orthodontic problems that are best treated at an early age. If a problem is one that could become more serious over time if left untreated, Dr. Gulland will recommend an early phase of treatment, usually called Phase I. The goal of Phase I treatment is to correct the problem at hand. A second course of treatment after all permanent teeth have erupted may be needed.

The shortlist of problems potentially requiring early intervention include:

• Underbites (lower teeth ahead of the upper front teeth
• Crossbites (upper teeth biting to the inside of the lower teeth)
• Excessively spaced or crowded teeth
• Extra or missing teeth
• Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
• Finger, thumb, or pacifier sucking habits affecting jaw growth

To give your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends a first visit at age 7. No referral is needed. Have children over age 7? Have always wanted to improve your own smile? Our initial exams are for children and adults. Please call us at 724-981-3950 to schedule your free exam.