Orthodontist for a 7 Year Old?

Updated on October 07, 2013
T.M. asks from Tampa, FL
22 answers

I took my kids to their 6-month cleaning with the dentist this week. The dentist mentioned that my 7-year old son's bite was a little off and I might want to think about a orthodontist. When I asked when he should go, the dentist said that now would be a good time. I fully accept that orthodontists are in our future. I will pay the money to let my children have good teeth. However, my son only has 4 permanent adult teeth so far. Is it really common to start with an orthodontist this young before the adult teeth have even come in? Obviously, I will be checking my insurance to see what is covered and we will likely go to a consultation. Opinions or experience with this?

3 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from San Francisco on

Ditto what the others have said. My daughter also had an expander at 8 or 9, for about a year, which made her later braces/treatment shorter and easier. If we had waited and skipped the expander she likely would have been in braces twice as long, or longer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

As long as the two front and eye teeth are in, he can have 1st phase braces. It's really better to start young before the adult teeth are in for too long. They move easier and less pain for the child.

My GD has had 1st phase braces for almost a year. Gets them off next month. She has not really experienced any pain, even with the adjustments because, per the dentist, her teeth were still "new" and moved easier.

More Answers


answers from Seattle on

My son is 11 and has all his adult teeth in, including his 12 year molars. We have been having consults with his orthodontist for the past 2 years just waiting for all the teeth to be in.
I haven't paid for one consult.
He told us it was silly to put braces on a child until all their permanent teeth are in. So if you kid only has 4 teeth it is WAY to early to go.
We will go in for the final consult in March and discuss braces, insurance, and everything else that comes with it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We just took our 7 year old last week because our dentist felt they needed to check the crowding in her mouth. They said she did not need any work done now, but they want to see her in a year. I found a orthodontist that does not do stage braces unless necessary. They believe doing braces only once is usually best for the child and the parents finances. I'm thankful I found them because the first one I went to wanted to put braces on my 10 year old. She is now almost 13 and the other ortho still has not put braces on her!!! I do know that the ortho that I go to likes to start seeing kids at 7 that way they have a good history before having to put braces the child.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Now is the right time to start with an orthodontist.
When our son was about 7 he had his first panoramic x-ray.
He had so many adult tooth buds developing it looked like he had a traffic jam going on in his mouth - and there was no room for them to emerge.
We did the expander starting in 3rd grade. At that age the palate has not hardened and the bones at the roof of the mouth have not knit. They can shape the bones as they grow. It's easier to expand now than it will be at any other time and it's a lot less painful.
That made room in his jaws for the teeth to come in much straighter than they otherwise would have.
He only had 2 years in full braces and was finished by the end of 6th grade.

Expanders hadn't been invented when I was growing up.
My teeth were all over the place and were too big to fit them all in my mouth.
I started braces in 5th grade and had them through the end of 11th grade - 7 very long miserable painful years - and on top of that they had to pull my wisdom teeth and 4 other permanent teeth so the rest had room to fit and be straight.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Orthodontists have free consultations. You bring the child, the ortho looks and says "let's get started" or "he's not ready yet - see you in a year to check again". There's no harm in going for a consult.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My 9 year old got braces when he was 7. They should have come off a while ago but we've been really lax with appointments. For cross-bite issues, it's now thought that by taking advantage of the growth in the face that happens at this age, it's faster and easier to correct jaw issues such as under bites and cross bites than it is to wait until they are older. The round of ortho at this age is usually short (about a year) and fairly inexpensive. It is covered by insurance. My youngest son will go through the same thing when he gets his 6 year molars in (he's 7 now but his teeth are slow to come in). Then they'll both go for round two at age 12 or 13 and hopefully that will be it. There is the possibility of another round at 18+ if they have another round of strong jaw growth that throws off the alignment.

What's the alternative? No one said anything about my under bite until I was 15. Because of the position of my jaw, my teeth don't actually meet anywhere except my back-most molars. I can close my teeth and still stick my tongue out. You know how when adult teeth first break through the gums they have ridges in them that get worn down over time by contact with the other teeth above or below? My ridges never wore down (because they don't connect with the other teeth above or below) so my teeth look like they have scalloped edges. And all of this is *after* I had late treatment. I had braces and a palate separator (a device that anchors to your teeth and sits against the roof of your mouth into which you put a key twice a day to turn a wheel that pushes the roof of your mouth apart) at 16. At one point, I could fit a stack of 4 quarters in between my front teeth before the spread themselves apart to fill in the gap. That treatment didn't work enough to correct the misalignment, so I had surgery the summer before senior year in high school to have my lower jaw made smaller. It's major surgery that involves a couple of days in the ICU (because of the jaw's proximity to your airway and brain) and another few days in the hospital. You're intubated, swollen, and it's pretty awful. Your jaw is wired shut for several weeks, during which you obviously can't eat. I have metal plates in my lower jaw where they screwed the remaining pieces back together (they basically go in and unhinge/stretch the hinges of the lower jaw, saw out a few millimeters of bone from each side, screw the broken pieces back together and re-attach the jaw with a series of wire loops). A few years after my surgery, I had TMJ issues that were eventually resolved.

So to avoid all of that...I'm on board with multiple treatments starting early.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If you wait too long, for most permanent teeth to come in, you may have waited too late and your son might have a tougher time with braces.

Julie's reply is right -- see the ortho now because if your son needs a palate expander, it is much, much easier on him to get it earlier rather than later. Orthos want to expand that palate while it's still got some "give." My daughter got an expander at about eight. It's not at all unusual these days for orthodontists to start at least evaluating kids as young as seven; however, because we adults were from a generation where nobody saw an ortho until much older, parents often resist the idea of a kid seeing an ortho this young. Remember, seeing the ortho doesn't mean your son will walk out with braces or even get them in the next few years; you're going for a consultation. Braces now get put on and off in stages, sometimes -- my daughter is 12 and on her second set after a palate expander and an initial set on just upper front teeth; after that was all done, she had a break and now is in full braces.

A friend of hers is just now getting her initial braces at age 13 and is in a lot of pain for a long time whenever there's an adjustment. It just seems tougher on her, starting at 13 instead of going in gradual stages like my daughter and other kids did, earlier.

You're right to think that with only a few permanent teeth, it's probably too soon for full-on braces for your son, but the ortho and dentist will look at x-rays to see all your son's permanent teeth, right there waiting to erupt, and can tell a lot about the future from that. (The x-rays told them that my daughter would have two reversed teeth in the wrong places, so they could start planning treatment before those teeth even came in.) They also can look at his jaw and how it will develop. So I'd go ahead with a consultation.

Do more than one with different orthos! They can have different approaches -- we didn't like the first one we saw, who wanted to start yanking out teeth etc. right away at nine; we preferred another one, who is slower and more conservative in his approach -- hence the early start and the gradual stages. Orthos do consultations for free so see at least two if not more. It's worth it to find one who has a treatment plan that works for your son.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My son is 7. We just started orthodontics last month and by the end of this month he'll have an expander. I am fortunate. My BIL is our dentist, so I don't have any problem trusting him 100%. This exact discussion came up at a family gathering. "7 seems so young for orthodontics. I thought that was meant for preteens." My brother in law explained that it depends on the issues at hand. In my son's case he has a small, high palette and a cross bite that needs to be corrected before we worry about braces. Apparently, there is a "sweet spot" for orthodontics. When we went in for our initial consultation, we were told that X teeth needed to fall out first. That took six months. When we back in last month, we were told it was timed perfectly. Find a reputable orthodontist and hear what he has to say.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

The family that I worked for as a nanny had 7 kids. 6 out of 7 of their kids had teeth pulled and braces on by age 8. Their dad has huge teeth in a small mouth. Because his parents didn't take him to the orthodontist young enough he has a horse tooth look.

If your dentist advises you to do a consult now it's not because it's going to make "him" any money. He has NO vested interest in you doing this. He means you need to take him for a consultation.

They have all sorts of devices out there they need to have installed/put in by age 8. BEFORE their bones are totally adult size, which happens in the next 4 years for most kiddo's. Their hands, feet, ears, nose, jaws, cheeks, etc...are all, at 7 and 8 going to have slow steady growth for a few months then a sudden growth spurt and they'll look odd for a year or two until their skull and shoulders catch up in size.

He needs his devices on now so his jaw bones can be made the shape and size he needs.

I've seen kids wear Bi-oh-nate-ers...don't have any idea how to spell it but that's how it sounds, at age 7. It looks like a mini shock absorber connected to a tooth on the jaw they want to grow and it connects to a tooth on the bottom on the other one. It stretches the parts apart instead of moving the ends together. So if they want to top jaw to expand they'd connect it to a top tooth behind the eye teeth then connect the bottom to the back jaw teeth. Putting pressure on the top teeth constantly to grow and expand.

Another little friend that is not 8 yet had a device in the roof of her mouth that mom turns a click every morning and every evening. Her top jaw is too narrow so this device is expanding her bones a tiny tiny bit each moment. There is constant pressure to make the move as they grow.

If you think about how the Chinese woman of old wore those tiny little shoes you can start to get a visual picture of how bones can be shaped while they are growing. Those parents put shoes of a certain size and shape on their girls at a super young age so they'd have tiny dainty feet. They could barely walk or stand but they had tiny deformed feet.

By starting the shaping process young the process was less painful and easier to do. The same with the orthodontist work, the younger they start the easier and less painful it will be to kiddo.

Make an appointment as soon as you can get in. Listen to what the doc suggests. They have no other goal except to make your child's mouth a thing of beauty.

They'll make money whether or not you use their services so you can trust their judgement.

IF IF IF you don't agree to their observations then by all means get a second opinion and even a third. It's your child that will pay the consequences if you don't start soon enough.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Definitely schedule appointments with several local orthodontists. Usually the consultations are free as long as you don't allow x-rays. Ask friends for recommendations because there are good ones and bad ones out there.

One of my daughters needed early intervention for a cross bite. She had developed a "crater" looking sore inside her cheek. Our Orthodontist called her treatment phase 1 and phase 2.

Phase 1 was the upper palette expander with braces on the few permanent teeth to keep them in position. The treatment lasted about 6 months. When he took the expander out, he cemented in a retainer in the upper arch to maintain the space the expander had created. Phase 2 is Invisilines which she started at age 12 1/2 and will wear a little over a year. She's a super responsible rule follower type of kid and the Invisilines are perfect for her.

One thing to watch- Our insurance covers half the cost of the orthodontic treatment, up to $1800 per child. Our phase 1 used up over $1200 of that coverage. Phase 2 is costing $4800 and we only have the remaining $600 of insurance coverage to apply towards it.

If your (or hubby's) employer offers a medical flexible spending account, do it! The money is taken out pre-tax and you have to use it or lose it but if you're facing orthodontics, using it won't be a problem. You sign up for it during open enrollment.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


My oldest son got braces when he was 8. The orthodontist told us he MIGHT need a second set of braces. His bite was messed up and his teeth were messed up. He's now 13 and doing GREAT!! He had NOT lost all of his baby teeth - however - he did during treatment and everything seems to have grown in right.

My 11 year old? the orthodontist did NOT want to put anything on his teeth until he had more baby teeth out. They want to try and catch the bones as they are growing - makes it much easier to fix the problem when the bones are growing instead of when they are fully developed.

Go talk to the orthodontist. go to several. They usually offer a free consultation...figure out who feels right to you...talk to their patients - some have referral lists.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

It happens. Some of my grandchildren have first visited the orthodontist at a startlingly young age. The thinking in the profession has changed considerably. Check your insurance and, when you go in for a consultation, pick the dentist's brains. Write down all the questions in your mind, even the ones you think might be silly. Take the list with you.



answers from San Antonio on

My daughter is six and has her first appointment with the orthodontist scheduled...she has a cross bite, you can Google it...it might be what your dentist was talking about...it needs to be fixed early as soon as the six year permanent molars come in.

If you don't fix it, the child's face can become unevenly shaped and cause TMJ later in life.

My daughter also has missing permanent teeth...so we will be back to see the orthodontist later for braces...but first we have to fix her bite.



answers from Cleveland on

we started in third grade and it was quick and realitively painless for the first round, less than 9 months of dealing w the first round too, he is supposed to be wearing a retainer but lost it so we decided to let it go which I think was a huge mistake, but knowing there is another round in our future we are just going to deal with it then, which might make round too longer than it would have been if we had kept up with the retainer. but still round 2 will be shorter than had we not had round 1.

and like others have explained, getting the teeth in the right position before they fully come in, gives more teeth room to come in straight



answers from Philadelphia on

He is not too young. From my experience with family and friends, age 7 is the age that kids get expanders to widen their pallette if necessary. My kids have broad palettes so this was not necessary but my sister's children needed top and bottom expanders. This will prevent them from having to get adult teeth pulled later since there will now be room for all their teeth. My brother's kids only needed top expanders.

The treatment to widen the pallette took less than a year.

In my area consultations are free but if you are getting different opinions, get the X-rays so each orthodontist does not have to take their own.


answers from Chicago on

Very common. My older daughter started with orthodontia when she was in 3rd grade. She needed a palate expander so all her teeth would fit (instead of having permanent ones pulled like her dad did so many years ago) and it works much better when kids are younger. She has beautiful teeth now (at 25) and I'm glad we had them fixed.



answers from Boston on

I remember when I was about 8 my mother freaking out because the dentist told her this about me and an overbite. She was raising my brother and I alone and had no way pay for braces. She got a second opinion and was told to wait until I was a few years older and had more permanent teeth and my mouth had a chance to grow. My overbite corrected itself as I got older and I never ended up with braces. Which upset me greatly because all of my friends had them and I felt like an outcast, yes strange I know, but my point is I ended up with perfectly strait teeth. Had she listened to the first dentist I would have had braces for no reason at a huge expense. I suggest a second opinion and a few years before going down the braces road.



answers from Wausau on

Get at least two consultations, from offices that are not associated with each other. If your dentist referred you to an orthodontist within his/her same office, then get two more consults outside of that one.

My older son had wacky baby teeth but did not need braces. All of his adult teeth are in now and perfectly straight.


answers from Lakeland on

My daughter first went to the Orthodontist at 6. She will be getting an expander in January. She had a tooth come in and push out another one too early. (she also has almost all her adult teeth except the molars) Sometimes they can just use spacers to help the adult teeth come in straighter. Then it is less pain and cost later on.


answers from San Francisco on

Yep. It's very common for kids to have a palate expander at this age. My daughter is 8, and has had her expander on for a year. Orthodontists like to do this while the kids are still very young and growing quickly. My daughter hasn't experienced any pain, and only minimal discomfort at the very beginning. She only has 4 adult teeth so far, but they are HUGE compared to her baby teeth, and the orthodontist said that if we decided not to get the expander, we would likely end up needing to remove around 8 adult teeth (!). That seems like it would be a lot more painful than a year in an expander. Also, the total cost of orthodontics will be the same either way - whether we did the expander + braces later, or if we did just braces later (because the total amount of time will be the same, about 2-3 years of treatment). The difference is, the tooth extraction with an oral surgeon would be an additional cost. So for us, the expander was by far the less expensive/painful route.

The consultation will be free, so just go and see what your options are. You can decide from there.



answers from New York on

The one thing I know is if he needs a palate expander (which most kids do these days before the braces) it is MUCH better to have it before he reaches puberty, because once puberty is hit the palate fuses together. Before then it is much easier to move it - much less pain. I'd been seeing the old dentist in our practice and had asked him about my daughter seeing the ortho (I always figured they would tell me when to take her - her two teeth on either side of the front two were set back so she looked like she was buck toothed even though she wasn't). He kind of blew me off. When I went back the next day to have her cavity filled by one of the young dentists I asked her again and when she found out my daughter was 9 she said to take her right away. So I make sure to never get scheduled with the old guy again :)

My nephew didn't get his palate expander until he was about 11 or 12 and was in agony throughout it. My daughter had a little discomfort but that was about it.

Now I personally think what comes after the expander is important. Our ortho doesn't want to put actual braces on her until she loses the rest of her baby teeth, so she is 11 1/2 and has been out of the expander for at least a year and is still looking at probably at least another year before braces. But I know other orthos in our town will slap braces on a 9-year-old, because some of her friends got them that early.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions