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Visiting the Orthodontist at an Early Age

August 22, 2016

Is there ever a good time to be early?  It’s always a good idea to arrive early for an interview, movie and to beat traffic. But is it really a good idea to see an orthodontist early? Absolutely.  At around 7 to 8 years of age, permanent teeth have erupted or are beginning to erupt in children, particularly their first molars and incisors. As a result, this is a great age for children to have an orthodontic consultation.

More times than not, orthodontic treatment is not required at this age.  However, it’s still a great opportunity to monitor growth and development of the teeth and jaws. In some instances, children have malocclusions (the manner of which teeth and jaws bite together) that can often be difficult to notice without an orthodontic exam. A few areas that children can greatly benefit from early orthodontic intervention include correction of anterior or lateral posterior cross-bites, diagnosis of missing or extra permanent teeth and ectopic eruption of maxillary first molars. In particular, we would like to address the topic of ectopic eruption of permanent maxillary first molars. The image above illustrates the teeth involved with the ectopic eruption.

Ectopic eruption simply means a tooth is erupting into the wrong position. Ectopic eruption can occur only on one side of the mouth or on both. When the permanent maxillary first molars erupt into the primary second molars (the last baby teeth in the mouth), this causes the baby teeth to erode. This can lead to early loss of the baby teeth, resulting in the permanent first molars moving forward, ultimately blocking the eruption space for the permanent teeth.  When this occurs, it leads to crowding of the teeth, which ultimately increases the complexity of future orthodontic treatment. If this situation is diagnosed at an early appointment, an appliance can be utilized to help re-direct the eruption of the permanent first molars, ultimately making future treatment easier for patients.

We realize how important this can be for your child.  Therefore, we offer a complimentary initial evaluation.