Is my child ready for braces?

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Welcome everyone from the Rockwall area to the official blog of Smile Makers Orthodontics!!  This is the first of many posts to come, dedicated to teaching you everything you want to know about orthodontics.

As parents, many of you are wondering at some point, “When is my kid ready for braces?”

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that you have your child evaluated by an orthodontist by the age of 7. By this age, enough of the permanent teeth are fully in, allowing the orthodontist to check for problems with your child’s bite that should be addressed early in order to prevent the development of more serious complications in the future.

The bite is established when the permanent molars erupt.  An orthodontist can begin evaluating the front-to-back alignment of the bite for discrepancies, which could correlate with problems with the alignment of the jaws.  In addition, an orthodontist will be able to check the molars for crossbites, where the top teeth sit inside of the bottom teeth.

When the permanent front teeth or incisors finish erupting, an orthodontist can also begin evaluating your child for crowding, spacing, and oral habits.

In addition, the vertical overlap between the front teeth can be evaluated to check for deep bites (excess vertical overlap) and open bites (lack of vertical overlap).

Likewise, the horizontal overlap between the front teeth can be evaluated to check for discrepancies in the alignment of the bite, which could correlate with problems with the alignment of the jaws.  Too much horizontal overlap, or protrusion, usually corresponds with the lower jaw being positioned further behind than normal.

On the other hand, insufficient horizontal overlap or overlap in the opposite direction (where the lower front teeth sit ahead of the upper front teeth), may indicate a crossbite on a front tooth or an underbite (if all of the front teeth are involved).  An underbite is usually associated with the lower jaw being positioned too far forward and is one of the most difficult things to treat.  We prefer to discover them early and follow their progress for a long time.

On average, the permanent incisors (front teeth) and first molars (back teeth) have all erupted by 7 years of age.  For this reason, we recommend all children have evaluations by an orthodontist to screen for these major problems with the bite, as they require intervention.  Most kids will not require any intervention at that age and can be monitored periodically until they are older.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us!  We do complimentary consultations!



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