Why Your Child Needs to See an Orthodontist by Age 7

As a busy parent, keeping up with your child’s appointments can feel overwhelming. Oftentimes, it’s just as difficult to know when to schedule an important visit as it is to know what to schedule. From booster shots to pediatric visits, you’ve got a lot to keep up with – but don’t worry, the Watson Orthodontics team is here to make the orthodontic side of your to-do list easier for you and your family. Here’s what you need to know about your little one’s first orthodontic appointment and why your child needs to see an orthodontist by age 7

What to Expect at the First Visit

When your child sees an orthodontist by age 7, you’re helping set them up for long-term smile success. And because you want the best for them, knowing what to expect at your child’s first orthodontist appointment can put your mind at ease – and help you prepare your child for what will come as well! 

Medical & Dental History Review

To get started, we’ll ask you some questions about your child’s past medical and dental experiences. This helps us form a baseline for addressing their orthodontic concerns, as well as offer answers to any questions you may have, like whether thumb sucking could cause future issues or if your child’s speech problems might be related to the position of their teeth. 

X-rays, Imaging, & Oral Examination

After we’ve covered the basics of your child’s dental health history, we’ll move on to the next stage: assessing their smile. We’ll take images of their teeth to better understand their dental anatomy – where the teeth are now and where their permanent teeth might come in. Dr. Watson will then conduct an oral examination to check for signs of emerging teeth, assess the relationship between their teeth and jaws, and look for any potential issues with bite alignment or jaw growth. 

Meeting with You

Once Dr. Watson has completed the exam, we’ll discuss expectations for future treatment. Many kids get braces in their later teen years, but it’s important to know that some children require an early round of treatment, known as Phase I. If this is the case for your child, Dr. Watson will discuss a potential treatment plan to give your child a head start on a straight smile.

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Why Age 7? 

Getting braces for kids is an exciting growth milestone, but because we are used to seeing teens with braces, it’s common for parents to be unaware that 7 is the best age for a first orthodontic appointment. There are several reasons why seeing an orthodontist at age 7 can make all the difference for your child’s future treatment and dental development– here’s why: 

Your Child Has a Mix of Baby & Adult Teeth

By the time they turn 7, children usually have a good mix of both primary and permanent teeth, which gives Dr. Watson the ability to evaluate their dental development with a higher degree of accuracy, noting how the permanent teeth are starting to emerge. 

This is also an optimal age for evaluating your child’s jaw growth, which plays a pivotal role in their bite alignment. Given an early assessment, Dr. Watson can address potential problems, such as an underbite, overbite, or crowding. 

Your Child Might Benefit from Habit Prevention Tips

It’s very common for younger patients to exhibit harmful habits like thumb-sucking, mouth-breathing, or improper swallowing. Each of these practices can influence the way your child’s dental anatomy develops, but at age 7, they can still be easily corrected with proper intervention. By curbing these habits early, you can reduce the likelihood that they’ll need future orthodontic treatment. 

Your Child Is the Perfect Age for Early Intervention

Certain orthodontic issues are much easier to correct while your child’s jaw bones are still growing. Early treatment at age 7 can guide their growth effectively, leading to optimal outcomes that might not be as easily achieved once their face and jaws have stopped growing. 

Will My Child Need Early Intervention? 

Not every little one needs orthodontic treatment at age 7, but for those who do, it’s important to become aware of their condition and get them started as soon as possible. For patients needing this extra attention, Dr. Watson implements a process known as Two-Phase Orthodontic treatment. 

Phase I Treatment

If your child presents significant orthodontic concerns at their first orthodontic appointment, Dr. Watson might recommend the use of a fixed or removable appliance to direct the growth of their jaw and dental arches, correct harmful oral habits, and help certain teeth emerge into better positions.

This stage isn’t typically about getting all of the permanent teeth into their final positions but ensuring the jaw and dental structures are developing well enough to accommodate future growth and alignment as your child gets older. 


One Phase I treatment is complete, and Dr. Watson has removed any fixed appliances, your child will start a resting period during which we won’t use any active orthodontic appliances (besides a retainer). The purpose of this phase is to allow their remaining permanent teeth to erupt without interference before moving on to Phase II of treatment if necessary. 

Phase II Treatment

Now that your child has been through one round of initial treatment, we’ll put the finishing touches on their smile with a second round of active treatment. Usually, this phase involves using full upper and lower braces or clear aligners to straighten the smile in a process that looks more like the typical orthodontic treatment that most teens go through. 

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Set Your Child Up for Success at Watson Orthodontics! 

So, when should your child see an orthodontist? An early appointment is the best way to help your child get a head start on a straight smile, and we’re here to help. With a team of friendly experts, you and your child will love your first visit to Watson Orthodontics, and we can’t wait to meet you! If you’re ready to get started, schedule your 7-year-old’s first appointment in Houston, Tomball, or Spring today!