The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an assessment with a registered orthodontist no later than seven years of age, as early treatment may give the orthodontist the opportunity to:
For more information on the ideal time for the first orthodontic assessment, please see below the American Association of Orthodontists website.
In my opinion, the ideal age to begin orthodontic treatment for the majority of children is between 10-12 years old, once most of the adult teeth have erupted. This allows for all the teeth to be aligned and the bite to be corrected simultaneously. Whilst I recommend assessment of a child’s developing dentition by a specialist or a consultant in orthodontics from the age of seven, I recommend orthodontic treatment before the age 10 for only about 10 per cent of children. In my opinion, in the majority of cases, beginning treatment before 10-11 years of age confers few advantages, whilst prolonging unnecessarily the duration of the treatment as well as increasing the cost to the patient’s family.
For a small percentage of children, for whom early intervention can achieve results that are not possible once the growth of the jaw and face is complete, it may be desirable to start the orthodontic treatment sooner. Such cases include the delayed eruption of permanent teeth, suspicion of impacted teeth, and misalignment of the upper front teeth or bite. When there is a suspicion that permanent teeth are or are becoming impacted, a simple intervention such as widening of the upper dental arch to create space may assist in normalising the position of the adult teeth. In cases when the child has a narrow dental arch or smile, widening the upper dental arch minimises the likelihood of the child requiring extraction of teeth and can spontaneously improve the alignment of his/her teeth.
Below you will find some examples of what to look out for as a parent and what treatment modalities are available.
Whilst I recommend assessment of a child's developing dentition by a specialist or a consultant in orthodontics, in my clinic I consider it to be desirable to start orthodontic treatment before age 10 for only 10% of chiildren. I believe that starting treatment before 10-11 years of age for 90% of children confers few advantages but on the contrary, if one starts too early one has to balance time off school, the possibility of treatment/burden fatigue due to the long treatment duration and the additional expense of orthodontic treatment that may not be necessary.