Early Orthodontics – Who Needs It?

By Dr. Kathryn Haraldson, D.D.S.

A beautiful smile can melt hearts, make friends and set the stage to accomplish your dreams.

The quality of that smile starts early on. Many parents ask:

“What age should I start to bring my child in to see the dentist?”

The best answer is by age 1, or six months after the first tooth erupts and, if possible, every six months after.

Why is that best?

No two mouths are created equal. Most dentists will want to see your child early for an exploratory examination that can help predict a number of common orthodontic problems. For instance, a narrow palate may cause crowding, premature loss of baby teeth, cross-bites or a number of other problems that affect how the mouth grows and teeth are formed.

Did you know that a child’s face is 80% grown by age 8? The earlier that developmental issues can be detected, the more effective are steps taken to correct the root cause. A good example is mouth breathing which can adversely affect facial formation and cause dental deformities. The culprit may be tonsils, adenoids or other nasal obstructions which restrict the airway.

Mouth breathing isn’t normal and can be corrected by timely and early treatment. Parents and caregivers need to be aware of common signs and symptoms:

  • Open mouth while sleeping

  • Tossing & turning at night

  • Throwing off the covers

  • Excessive thumb sucking

  • Dry mouth or lips

  • Snoring

  • High incidence of sinus, colds or ear infections

We want something better for our kids… and it’s possible. Taking kids early to a gentle, caring dentist around the time that first tooth erupts can set the stage for a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime.


Dr. Haraldson is an active member of the International Association for Orthodontics and her emphasis is on pediatric and orthodontic care as a general dentist at Forreston Dental Clinic in Forreston, Illinois and Riverside Dental Clinic in Savanna Illinois.