When you’re a parent, your child’s health is your top priority. Establishing healthy habits early helps set them up for a lifetime of wellness, and you shouldn’t overlook the importance of oral health care in those early years.
Your child’s mouth undergoes major changes as they grow. Overcrowding, crooked teeth, bite irregularities, and more can compromise the health of their smiles — but orthodontic care can help.
At Touni Orthodontics in Sunnyvale, California, Walied Touni, DDS, MSD, specializes in orthodontics care for children of all ages. If you’re asking yourself when you should schedule an orthodontic evaluation for your child, now’s the time to find out.
Recognizing orthodontic problems in childhood
Everyone needs regular dental exams — even children. Take your child to the dentist for their first dental cleaning by the time they turn one, and continue appointments every six months or as recommended by your pediatric dentist.
Routine dental cleanings are one of the best ways for children and their parents to practice preventive oral health care. Your child’s dentist is trained to monitor their jaws, teeth, gums, and tongue as they grow. If they identify an orthodontic concern, they might recommend an orthodontic evaluation.
You can learn to recognize the signs of potential orthodontic issues too. As your child’s mouth develops and their permanent teeth start coming in, watch for:
- Crowded teeth
- Early or delayed loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty speaking or chewing
- Gapped or missing teeth
Thumb-sucking or pacifier use could also pose a risk to your child’s oral health. While many children grow out of these habits, long-term sucking on thumbs or pacifiers could interfere with jaw and tooth development.
The benefits of children’s orthodontic care
Children’s mouths grow and develop rapidly in a few short years, and their oral health impacts them for the rest of their lives. Taking your child to the orthodontist gives their dentist the opportunity to evaluate your child’s oral health and develop a treatment plan to give them their healthiest smile.
Every child’s needs are unique. Some children need orthodontic intervention between the ages of 6-10, before they have all their permanent teeth. Others might only need orthodontic care, like braces, during their teenage years, once all their permanent teeth have emerged.
Dr. Touni specializes in comprehensive children’s orthodontic care. He works with children of all ages to support healthy growth and development. Early intervention often makes treatment more effective, and it can also reduce your child’s risk of common oral health problems like gum disease and tooth decay.
Your child’s first orthodontist appointment
Dr. Touni generally recommends that children have their first orthodontic evaluation around age seven. You don’t have to wait until your child has all their permanent teeth to schedule their first orthodontist appointment.
We start with a comprehensive assessment of your child’s health history and perform a dental exam, including X-rays if needed. Then we develop a treatment plan for your child.
Most children don’t start orthodontic treatment right away. In many cases, treatment starts 2-7 years after the first consultation.
Dr. Touni may recommend a number of different treatments, based on your child’s age and oral health needs. Phase I treatment, or early-onset treatment, happens before your child has all their permanent teeth. It includes space maintainers, expansion appliances, and retainers.
Developmental treatment is focused on improving chewing ability, eliminating overcrowding, and supporting jaw growth. For more complex tooth and bite irregularities, orthopedic treatment could be appropriate for children under the age of 11.
Your child’s first orthodontic evaluation sets the stage for a lifetime of healthier smiles. To find out more about our children’s orthodontic services, contact Touni Orthodontics by phone or request an appointment online today.