When Should Your Child See an Orthodontist?

They grow up so fast, don’t they? One day, you’re taking your child to their first dentist appointment and the next it’s time to decide when to take them for their first orthodontic visit. This is a question we hear all the time at Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics, and the good news is we have the answer you need – but it might be sooner than you think!

So when should your child see an orthodontist? According to the American Association of Orthodontics, they should come in for their first check-up at age seven. There are many reasons behind this answer, and Dr. Cowan and Dr. Whitaker have all the facts so you can get your child started on their orthodontic journey on the right foot. 

Why should my seven-year-old meet with an orthodontist?  

Getting started with any sort of medical treatment as early as possible is always recommended. This age-old wisdom has many empowering effects for patients in any medical field, and orthodontics is no exception. That is because straightening teeth is one of the most common procedures that children, teens, and adults have done. Taking the proper steps ahead of time allows you and your orthodontic team to ensure the best experience and return on investment possible, for many reasons. 

Early Exposure

New experiences are always a little scary, but introducing them to an orthodontist early on allows younger children to grow used to the idea of orthodontic check-ups. Dr. Cowan and Dr. Whitaker are strong believers that bringing a seven-year-old to an orthodontist helps ease the stress and anxiety that often surrounds orthodontic treatment for older patients. 

Our team has also found that despite the insecurity that many first-time visitors feel about their smiles during their teenage years, the anxiety about the orthodontic process can be just as much of a struggle. This fear sometimes even works as an obstacle to the teen’s smile goals. Patients who are used to the idea of orthodontics are often more comfortable in the office and even welcome the idea of braces!

Preventative Treatment

Sometimes, with early intervention, orthodontists catch more complex orthodontic issues as they are in development and before they turn into much larger problems.

Because a second grader’s jaw is still growing, there is more room to redirect growth if you meet with an orthodontist early. It is more difficult to catch and correct dental issues when the jaw structure has already become permanent. 

By detecting subtle changes in jaw structure and tracking them from age seven and beyond, your child’s orthodontist has a better chance of preventing misalignment, or malocclusion. For example, many teenagers require tooth extractions or additional surgeries before braces can even be put on. Early screenings can work to prevent the need for oral surgery, as well as direct jaw growth, lower the risk of injury to protruding or intruding teeth, and improve the appearance of their teeth overall. 

Additionally, there are multiple, specific dental issues that only an orthodontist can detect at an early age. By having an orthodontist track your child’s teeth before they’ve lost all of their baby teeth, future conditions can be stopped in their tracks. 


Orthodontics isn’t always the cheapest medical procedure out there – even if Cowan & Whitaker’s prices and payment plans are out of this world! One of the most cost-effective means of treatment is an early intervention which can prevent or even eliminate the need for more expensive treatment options.  

Better Results Overall 

The thorough nature of early, long-term orthodontic treatment means that your child’s smile will be more reliably straight and will stay straight longer than patients who started treatment in their teenage years. You’ll know exactly when the best time to start braces is, and you’ll have already addressed a range of potential dental problems from the outset of their orthodontic journey. In other words, starting off on the right foot of orthodontics keeps the ball rolling for orthodontic success in the future. 

Consult an Orthodontist at Any Age

Even though the AAO’s recommendation for a first orthodontic visit is age seven, always trust your gut. If you find that your child is experiencing difficulty chewing or speaking, has severely crowded or misaligned teeth, or they are breathing through the mouth, check in with an orthodontist to make sure that there isn’t a bigger issue at hand. 

Cowan & Whitaker’s team of trained specialists is always welcoming and if you have concerns, we are sure to put them to rest no matter your child’s age.

When Should Your Child See an Orthodontist?

Doesn’t my child’s regular dental checkup count? 

At this point, you may be wondering if your child’s pediatric dentist can monitor their development in the same way as an orthodontist. After all, by the age of seven, most children are already visiting their dentist regularly, and many parents feel that because of their age, dental visits are enough to ensure that the development of their child’s teeth is being effectively overseen. So why see an orthodontist? 

Orthodontists are specifically trained for an additional 2-3 years to learn facial bone structure and development. This specialization makes orthodontists the better choice for guiding your child’s jaw growth, and dentists the better choice for helping them learn healthy oral habits

When Should Your Child See an Orthodontist?

Your Child’s Smile is Our Passion

When you’re in the business of making people smile, you want to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Our team at Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics knows that as a parent, you’ve got a million things on your plate – so let us take care of the orthodontic worry for you. With our experience and commitment to success, we will make sure both you and your child have bright and shiny smiles that will last a lifetime!

Is your second grader ready for their first orthodontic visit? That means it’s time to bring them in for a free consultation! We can’t wait to meet you.

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