August 26th, 2014
When my wife and I started having children, I became more aware of the value of well checks for growing children. Our first daughter was born five weeks before I started dental school and our second daughter was born during my second year, so I was very engaged in my study of basic and applied health sciences when they were born. Even though I had excelled in courses like organic chemistry, gross anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, physiology, pharmacology at the same level as my medical colleagues, I was shocked at how much I didn’t know about the growth and development, and care of my infant children.
As all parents know (and lament), children don’t come with a specific training guide or owner’s manual despite their individual uniqueness. Thanks to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines for “well child visits” (1) we felt much more educated about our childrens’ developmental stages and how to keep them healthy.
Likewise, as an orthodontist, I am frequently asked “at what age should I be taking my child to see the orthodontist for the first time?” Applying the same principle of preventative care, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children have a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. (2) Most children don’t require any kind of active treatment at this young age, so what is so magical about being 7 years old?
By age 7, most children have four permanent molars and between four and eight permanent front teeth (incisors) establishing their adult biting and chewing relationships. By seeing patients at this early age, an orthodontist like me can catch and help correct poor oral habits that may result in long-term jaw problems. It is also a good age to identify skeletal mismatches between the jaws, allowing problems that could only be corrected surgically later to be corrected orthopedically instead.
Most often at McAllister Orthodontics, these complimentary growth and development exams simply educate parents and their kids about the growth of their teeth and jaws and what to expect from future development. They also provide a fun and positive experience in a doctor’s office for kids who frequently associate the doctor or the dentist with shots. One of the greatest benefits from these check-ups is the peace of mind that parents feel, knowing that a specialist is monitoring their child’s individual growth to help them know the precise time to begin active treatment, and creating an individualized treatment plan that will provide the very best smile for their child.
So, don’t delay! If you have a child who has started to get permanent teeth in the front and back, call our Omaha (402-392-1516) or Fremont (402-721-5257) offices and schedule a complimentary consultation today, and join our 7&Up Club! No referral is necessary. As a parent of young children myself, there is nothing that brings me more peace of mind than knowing a specialist is helping me monitor their growth and health. Let me help you have that same peace of mind with my individualized orthodontic well-checks!