When it comes to their children’s teeth, many parents wonder when the best time is to schedule a visit with an orthodontist. Knowing if your child needs orthodontic treatment, or braces, is not always something that you can determine on your own. Here are some guidelines.  

My child sucks his/her thumb 

If your child is over age five and still sucks his or her thumb, it is critical that you seek the guidance of an orthodontist. Thumb-sucking greatly increases the risk of developing an open bite (top and bottom teeth do not touch when the child bites down) and a crossbite (the top and bottom teeth do not overlap correctly). If these problems have already developed, an orthodontist can help plan the best course of action to correct them. 

My child’s tooth has not come in 

Every tooth in your child’s mouth is scheduled to appear through the gums at a specific age. Delayed appearance of a tooth may be caused by several factors, such as the tooth is incorrectly positioned in the bone, or it does not have enough space to come in on its own. In other words, the tooth is trapped. If this is not corrected at the right time, future problems can occur and the tooth may need to be extracted. Orthodontists are specially trained to assess if braces are needed or if the tooth can be expected to come in normally.

My child is over seven years old

Not all children need orthodontic treatment. However, the American Association of Orthodontists still recommends that children seven years old or older be evaluated by an orthodontist. Like all health issues, it is better to detect problems earlier rather than later. Only about 5 to 10 percent of children need early orthodontic treatment. Most can wait until they are older, but unless your child is screened, you will not know. 

Dr. Carmen Garcia-Paul is a board-certified orthodontist at Miami Orthodontic Specialists. She offers free consultations for all new patients. To schedule an appointment, call 305-407-9000, or visit miamibraces.com for more information. 

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