How is a Parent to Know????

How is a parent to know when their child should see an orthodontist? The best rule of thumb is around the age of 7 or 8. At this age, the maxilla (upper jaw) is significantly developed and Dr. Shah is able to detect any deficiencies and diagnose the malocclusion (bad bite). An early diagnosis allows us the opportunity to start treatment before a developmental deficiency becomes full blown. Early intervention can prevent the need for more complex treatment later such as the need to extract permanent teeth.

Won't my dentist tell me when?  We often get referrals from the general dentists; however, not all dentists are familiar with the most current orthodontic techniques and the American Association of Orthodontists' recommendation for evaluation before all the permanent teeth have erupted.

It is best to start orthodontic treatment BEFORE all the permanent teeth are erupted!  Now that technology allows us the tools to expand the upper jaw, we can make room for the teeth to erupt rather than wait for them to erupt and then try to straighten out the teeth. This philosophy is known as "functional orthodontics" and is based on the importance of facial growth and development and jaw position. Functional orthodontics consists of not only straightening a person's teeth as with traditional orthodontic treatment, but also reshaping and repositioning the upper and lower jaws into a well-balanced functioning position, in turn creating a better facial profile.

But my child seems to have plenty of room for their permanent teeth! Spacing of deciduous (baby) teeth is not always an indication that there will be enough room.  The best way to peek into the future is to take a panoramic film that will show the size and position of the permanent teeth waiting to erupt. This is also a good tool to tell if there are any congentially missing permanent teeth. General dentists do not always take a panoramic film as part of their x-ray series. Dr. Shah will take the x-ray and evaluate it free of charge at your consultation.

The diagram above shows some common orthodontic conditions which indicate the need for an evaluation.  These problems are also seen in adults and remember: It's never too late to create a beautiful, healthy smile!