(NBC News) — Getting braces used to be a teenage rite of passage, and plenty of teens still need braces, but the American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children see an orthodontist starting at age 7.
“There are too many people that are coming in too late –9, 10, 11, 12 years old. If we saw these children a little bit earlier that’s going to make life so much easier for the subset of people who actually need it,” says Dr. Christian Groth.
Orthodontists can more accurately diagnose problems that can be best managed before a child’s jaw and other anatomy has reached their permanent stage.
“One of the toughest things to do is to explain to a parent that there’s nothing I can do at age 12 or 13 for a specific problem, other than extraction therapy or surgical intervention, but it could have potentially been avoided if we had seen that patient three years earlier,” Dr. Groth says.
According to Dr. Groth, only about 20 percent of kids who are evaluated need early treatment, but the benefit of early treatment in those kids is significant.
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