Your Health: First visit to orthodontist

Some families see the first trip as a rite of passage.
Some families see the first trip as a rite of passage.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A visit to the orthodontist is considered a rite of passage for many American teens. But how young is too young to begin thinking about braces?

As a mother of three children, Kristi Compton has plenty of experience with orthodontics. All of the kids have been through 'Phase One,' and are now beginning the second phase with eldest child, 13-year-old Emma.

So what age should your child be for that first visit? Young, according to the experts. And parents who are in the know say the earlier, the better.

"I feel like by getting it done early, they go ahead and get their mouth in the shape it needs to be so that their adult teeth can come in," said Compton.

Dr. Penny Taylor agrees. "Usually by the age of seven, we like to see all the kids just to make sure that growth is going appropriately and if there are problems we need to address, we can," Dr. Taylor said.

For patients at Taylor Made Smiles, there are two phases. "Generally for the early phase—seven, eight, nine—it is usually twelve months max. That addresses growth problems, functional problems with jaws, spacing, crowding. Then in the older group, the teens, it's usually about a year and a half to two years," said Dr. Taylor.

These days, even oral surgeons like to see wisdom teeth removed much earlier than in the previous generation. Taylor said her kids had theirs out between at ages 11 and 12, "because when it's just a bud, they can just go in and scoop it out."

Compton said her children see it as a stage of life. "They know what to expect, how to take care of them better. It has been easier. The second round is not nearly as hard as the first," she said.

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