Why annual orthodontic exams are so important for those age 7 and up

Tooth fairy visits and the cute grin with missing front teeth that appeared in your child’s elementary school photos? These were precursors for an important developmental milestone that’s happening in your child’s mouth–their permanent adult teeth are starting to come in.

The growth and development of the teeth and jaw is unique for every child. And while some children are fortunate to develop perfect dentition, most children require some type of orthodontic treatment to achieve a perfectly aligned, healthy, and confident smile for life. Annual orthodontic visits are essential to determine the ideal timing for treatment based on your child’s growth and unique tooth and jaw development.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first see an orthodontist by age seven. This initial exam is all about assessing your child’s mouth and catching potential issues early before they become bigger concerns in the future.

“But my child still has baby teeth”

Your child’s baby teeth set the foundation for their permanent teeth and how they will be positioned. The specialized doctors at Great River Orthodontics are experts trained to spot even the most subtle issues with jaw growth and emerging adult teeth, even when baby teeth are still present.

“But my child’s teeth are straight”

We love when children are fortunate enough to develop perfect dentition and a receive a clean orthodontic bill of health. However, even if your child’s teeth appear to be straight, there are many other orthodontic concerns that only a specialized orthodontist can evaluate and detect. If your Great River orthodontist confirms that your child’s jaw, teeth, and bite are indeed perfect, that’s great! If there’s a developing problem, we can detect and monitor it until treatment is necessary.

The race against the clock

Kids are constantly growing and changing, so orthodontic treatment is often a race against the clock. In some cases, early orthodontic treatment can achieve results that may not be possible once your child’s mouth and jaw are finished growing. (Did you know that the upper jaw and lower jaw don’t even grow at the same pace? The upper jaw stops growing around age eight, while the lower jaw continues growing along with the rest of your child’s body.)

Taking your child to the orthodontist for an annual exam starting at age seven allows for the detection of developing issues that may benefit from early correction. Sometimes a two-phased approach to orthodontic treatment starts during the childhood years to guide a child’s jaw and permanent teeth into a more favorable position – reducing the severity of the orthodontic problems so treatment is less complicated when the permanent teeth are present.

Most often, however, orthodontic issues are addressed with a single phase of treatment that begins closer to the teenage years when the majority of permeant teeth are present. You can trust our experienced, specialized doctors to provide you with an honest evaluation of your child’s smile each year, to ensure their treatment and timing are as efficient and effective as possible.

Signs of trouble

Thankfully, there are signs–some obvious, some not so obvious–that indicate when your child might need orthodontic treatment:

  • Struggling to bite or chew properly
  • Struggling to speak correctly
  • Difficulty breathing with their mouth closed
  • Losing baby teeth too early
  • Not losing enough baby teeth
  • Signs of crowding as permanent teeth come in
  • Crooked or angled teeth
  • A bit that doesn’t come together correctly
  • Shifting their jaw when they close or open their mouth
  • Grinding or clenching their teeth
  • Biting the inside of their cheek or the roof of their mouth
  • Snoring or difficulty sleeping

But again, even children with seemingly perfect pearly whites should visit an orthodontist starting at age seven for an exam (and then each year thereafter), just to make sure there are no hidden problems. Your child’s smile will thank you for it.

Monitor your child’s mouth each year

Whether your child is 7 or 17, Great River Orthodontics is here to meet your family’s orthodontic needs and goals. With annual orthodontic exams, Great River Orthodontics can keep your child’s smile healthy throughout their oral development and shape an amazing smile your child will enjoy for a lifetime. And the best news: annual orthodontic exams at Great River Orthodontics are always free with no strings attached.

Schedule an orthodontist exam today

At Great River Orthodontics, our complimentary annual orthodontic evaluations are worthy of your valuable time. You can count on us to provide a welcoming, relaxing environment that puts children and parents at ease. Your visit with our team will include free x-rays and mouth scans, one-on-one doctor time for an orthodontic evaluation and honest orthodontic outlook. And when the timing is right, personalized treatment planning that may include braces or Invisalign® clear aligners. We can also provide information on our $0 down and 0% interest flexible financing options so budget never stands in the way of a great smile. No referral is needed from your regular dentist, and our team is always happy to give a second opinion on your child’s orthodontic needs.

Schedule your child’s free annual orthodontic evaluation and consultation with our expert team today. A confident, healthy smile is for everyone – and, at Great River Orthodontics, we are proud to offer comprehensive orthodontic treatments beginning by age 7.