What to Expect During Your Child’s Orthodontic Evaluation
Preparing for your child’s first orthodontic evaluation
Children grow at an incredible rate, hitting new milestones almost before you have finished wrapping your mind around the last one. When it comes to dentistry, one of the really big milestones for your child is their first orthodontic evaluation—and it comes earlier than many parents expect!
Nowadays, dentists and orthodontists alike recommend that your child has an early orthodontic evaluation by seven years old. This is because advanced dental technology now allows dentists to spot potential issues early, providing opportunities for early invention or simply just giving you a better idea of what to expect when your child reaches the age for orthodontic treatments, like braces.
As your child reaches this new milestone, however, it’s natural to find yourself wondering what you can expect from their evaluation. Having access to this information doesn’t just help you, as you can also use what you’ve learned to help prepare your child for their appointment beforehand.
This often alleviates at least a little of the anxiety they might be feeling, helping them feel calmer and more comfortable during their appointment. To help both you and your child know what to expect, we’ve put together a guide on what will happen during your child’s early orthodontic evaluation at our Vancouver pediatric dentistry office.
Taking X-rays of Your Child’s Mouth
Once your child is called back, the first step in their orthodontic evaluation will be taking X-rays or digital radiographs of their teeth and jaws. Digital radiographs are more advanced forms of X-rays that use computers instead of film, sending the images they take directly to a computer screen for Dr. Mo to examine right away.
This cuts down on waiting time and provides a clearer image that’s easier to store for future reference, all while involving less exposure to radiation than traditional X-rays. These digital X-rays take just a few minutes to complete, but they provide a huge amount of information that will help Dr. Mo determine if or when your child will need orthodontic treatments like braces.
This is because these X-rays give Dr. Mo a clear view not just of the visible portion of your child’s teeth, but of their jaw and the adult teeth that have yet to erupt. Plus, by seven years old, some of their adult teeth, including their first adult molars, have also likely erupted.
Pediatric dentists trained in orthodontics like Dr. Mo can use this information to predict how your child’s adult teeth will erupt, including predicting potential future orthodontic issues, like overcrowding.
Your child’s X-rays also allow Dr. Mo to look for hidden problems like impacted teeth, which aren’t visible above the surface but can be quite painful when they go untreated. Having access to all this information allows you to plan for future orthodontic issues before they happen. In some cases, such as overcrowding, you may also be able to take some preventive measures now through early orthodontic treatments.
Testing Your Child’s Bite
The next step in your child’s orthodontic evaluation is testing their bite. To do this, your kids’ dentist might simply ask your child to bite their teeth together or they may take an impression of their teeth.
Doing this helps Dr. Mo check the alignment of their bite and allows her to identify potential issues with it, such as an underbite, overbite, open bite, and more. These are all issues that need to be addressed with orthodontic treatments. Doing so will not just improve the appearance of your child’s smile—and therefore their confidence in it—but their oral health as well.
When your child’s bite is straight and even, it’s easier to clean thoroughly, decreasing the risk that they’ll develop issues like cavities and gum disease. It also protects against future issues like uneven wear on their teeth and jaw pain, keeping your child’s smile healthier and more beautiful for a lifetime.
Evaluating Their Teeth
When she examines your child’s bite, Dr. Mo will also examine the alignment of your child’s individual teeth. She’ll check their spacing to ensure there isn’t too much—or not enough—space between their teeth, in addition to looking for obvious problems like crookedness, buck teeth, and more.
She’ll also examine their teeth for more subtle signs of an uneven or misaligned bite, like worn down enamel. This part of your child’s early orthodontic evaluation will be much like the examination they receive during their regular professional dental appointments. This makes it a pretty quick, simple, and familiar process for your child.
Discussing the Results With Your Child’s Dentist
Once Dr. Mo has performed a thorough examination of your child’s teeth and bite and has taken the time to examine their X-ray results, she will sit down with you to discuss her findings and, if necessary, talk about an action plan. In some cases, such as when there’s overcrowding in your child’s mouth, early orthodontic treatment can make a huge difference in your child’s long-term care.
Since they’re still growing, orthodontic devices called palate expanders can be used to create more room in their mouth, which can help reduce or prevent the need for future, more extensive treatments like tooth extractions.
In most cases, however, early orthodontic treatments aren’t necessary. Your child’s early orthodontic evaluation simply gives you an idea of what you can expect in the future regarding whether they’ll need braces and how extensive their treatment plan will be.
Having this knowledge ahead of time allows you to budget and plan for the future, which can be incredibly valuable for both you and your child! Dr. Mo will take plenty of time to walk you through the results of your child’s evaluation, including explaining potential treatment options, when your child will likely need these treatments, and answering all your questions.
The Must Love Kids team is ready to help your child on the path to great oral health.
Your child’s first orthodontic evaluation is a big milestone for them. It can even be exciting because it’s a sign that they’re starting to grow up! It’s also incredibly important because of the information it can provide you and your child’s dentist about the treatments your child will likely need as they grow.
Even if you discover that your child won’t need orthodontic treatments, the appointment is still beyond worth it simply because it brings you the security of knowing this! If you’d like to learn more about early orthodontic evaluations or if it’s time to schedule one for your child, feel free to schedule a consultation at any time.