March 21, 2023

Why does the AAO recommend age 7 for your first orthodontic consultation?

Receiving an orthodontic evaluation at the age of 7 may sound too young to some parents. After all, can a 7 year old get braces? Have all of their permanent teeth even erupted at this age?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive their first orthodontic exam by the age of 7 to screen for potential orthodontic problems, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll start orthodontic treatment at age 7 – or at all.

Every child is different, with different needs and a unique smile growth rate! The purpose of an orthodontic evaluation is simply to determine if your child needs orthodontic treatment or would benefit from treatment.

Can a 7 year old get braces or Invisalign?

Yes, in some cases, a 7 year old can get braces or another orthodontic treatment. Does that mean that your child will need braces at age 7? Not necessarily! It depends on what particular problems are detected during his/her evaluation.

Every child develops at a different rate. Typically, the front teeth on the top and bottom dental arch are the first to shed. These teeth are called the central incisors.

Orthodontic treatment is designed to be able to work with a mixed dentition, or a growing mouth of baby teeth and permanent teeth, so braces at age 7 or 8 is possible!

Why would braces at age 7 or 8 be necessary?

We won’t know if braces are necessary for your child until they receive a braces evaluation (orthodontic exam) from our Board-Certified orthodontist.

Dr. Andrews is trained to detect problematic orthodontic conditions before they progress and require a more intensive treatment or a longer treatment process.

Some developmental issues and dental misalignments become apparent around age 7, and it’s important that these conditions don’t go undetected and/or untreated. When untreated conditions progress, these can lead to:

  • Chewing difficulties
  • Speech impediments
  • Digestive problems caused by an inability to chew food properly
  • Jaw pain or tooth pain
  • Poor self-esteem

As the permanent teeth are growing in around age 7, we’re able to identify problematic conditions and create a personalized treatment plan to help guide your child’s teeth and jaw bones into a healthy, beautiful alignment.

How early orthodontic treatment works

“Braces for 7 year olds” doesn’t have to mean ‘braces’. Orthodontic appliances are often used in the younger years to create sufficient room in the mouth for all permanent teeth to erupt in alignment.

Palatal expanders are one of the most common orthodontic appliances used for children. These appliances are designed to widen a narrow palate, or upper jaw bone, to prevent teeth from growing crowded or misaligned and to correct the bite on posterior teeth that do not fit together properly. A number of orthodontic problems are caused by narrow jaw bones, and when the jaw bones have stabilized in the adult years, widening them or expanding them may require jaw surgery.

If our orthodontist does recommend orthodontic treatment for your child, Invisalign® clear aligners are also an option! Dr. Andrews would use a specialty series of aligners called Invisalign First®, which are a different type of aligners designed to work with mixed dentition (baby and adult teeth).

Why say “yes” to early treatment for your child?

Early orthodontic treatment serves to prevent intensive treatments like jaw surgery from becoming necessary, as braces and Invisalign can work alongside the natural development of the jaw bones. The teeth and jaw bones then grow in the desired alignment, instead of treating them after they’ve grown into misalignment. And scheduling an early first exam can save you money in the long run.

Plus, if your child is not quite ready to begin orthodontic treatment, they’ll be automatically enrolled in our Fins & Grins Club – a free observation program for growing smiles. Our kids club includes free orthodontic check-ups every 6 months until your child is ready to begin braces or Invisalign treatment!

Schedule your child’s first exam today!

Scheduling an orthodontic exam for your child around the age of 7 allows us to intercept any problematic conditions, if necessary. Early treatment can save your child from developmental issues and discomfort caused by their condition, and it can save you money in the long run.

Remember, receiving an orthodontic evaluation doesn’t mean that your child will begin treatment! It’s simply a precautionary measure to ensure that there aren’t any problematic conditions lurking and progressing into more complex problems.

Dr. Andrews and our team always have your family’s best interest in mind! We’re not focused on “sales”, we’re focused on providing you with solutions that enable you to live your greatest quality of life.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. If you’re looking for a top orthodontist in Augusta or Grovetown, we would love to meet you.

Request a complimentary exam for your child today!