You don’t have to wait for your dentist to refer your child to an orthodontist.
Parents are often the first to recognize that something is not quite right about their child’s teeth or their jaws. A parent may notice that the front teeth don’t come together when the back teeth are closed, or that the upper teeth are sitting inside of the lower teeth. They may assume that their dentist is aware of the anomaly, and that the dentist will make a referral to an orthodontist when the time is right. A referral might not happen if the dentist isn’t evaluating the bite.
AAO orthodontists don’t require a referral from a dentist to make an appointment with them.
What parents should look for:
Signs that the bite’s not right:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty in chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Jaws that shift or make sounds
- Speech difficulties
- Biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
- Facial imbalance
- Grinding or clenching of teeth
Learn more in our Parents Guide to Orthodontics.
Dentists and orthodontists may have different perspectives.
Dentists are looking at the overall health of the teeth and mouth. He/she could be looking at how well the patient brushes and flosses, or if there are cavities. While dentists look at the upper and lower teeth, they may not study how the upper and lower teeth make contact.
Orthodontists are looking at the bite, meaning the way teeth come together. This is orthodontists’ specialty. Orthodontists take the upper and lower jaws into account. Even if teeth appear to be straight, mismatched jaws can be part of a bad bite.
A healthy bite is the goal of orthodontic treatment.
A healthy bite denotes good function – biting, chewing and speaking. It also means teeth and jaws are in proportion to the rest of the face.
The AAO recommends children get their first check-up with an AAO orthodontist no later than age 7.
Kids have a mix of baby and permanent teeth around age 7. AAO orthodontists are uniquely trained to evaluate children’s growth as well as the exchange of baby teeth for permanent teeth. Orthodontists are expertly qualified to determine whether a problem exists, or if one is developing.
AAO orthodontists often offer initial exams at no (or low) cost, and at no obligation.
Visit Find an Orthodontist for AAO orthodontists near you.
When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a highly skilled specialist. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.