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Does My Child Need a Referral to See an Orthodontist?

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young child visiting an orthodontist Normally, parents are the first people to recognize an issue with their child’s teeth and jaws. Perhaps their front teeth stick out a little too far, or maybe there are obvious gaps. Most parents assume their child’s dentist will tell them to visit an orthodontist if the problem calls for treatment, but this isn’t always the case. Fortunately, the answer to, “Does my child need a referral to see an orthodontist?” is “Nope!” If you’re concerned about anything with the alignment of your child’s teeth, you can take them to see a specialist right away.

Why Your Child’s Dentist Might Not Refer Them to an Orthodontist

When you bring your child to see their dentist, the doctor is looking at the overall health of their teeth. They’re checking for cavities, any signs of grinding or enamel wear, and looking for trouble spots where plaque tends to gather. While they might notice the alignment of their teeth, it isn’t their primary focus, so they may not choose to refer to an orthodontist even though you think they should.

Bringing Your Child to an Orthodontist on Your Own

Thankfully, like we mentioned above, you can simply schedule an appointment with an orthodontist on your own without a dentist’s referral. Almost all orthodontists are happy to see a child without a referral, and they actually encourage bringing your little one in for an exam if you notice anything troublesome about their teeth and bite alignment. Many provide free or low cost initial visits as well.

When Should You Schedule an Appointment with an Orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child should receive an orthodontic screening around age seven. At this point in a child’s oral development, the orthodontist will be able to determine whether or not they will need treatment for their permanent teeth, hopefully addressing any problems as early as possible. However, it’s also OK to bring your child in for a screening earlier if you notice any of the following:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Rotated teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Large spaces between teeth
  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite
  • Problems chewing or opening and closing their mouth

After giving your child a screening, the orthodontist will go over their treatment options and offer any other information you might need. By taking this proactive approach and not waiting on a referral from your child’s dentist, you can help your child start treatment earlier, enjoy a smoother process, and obtain a perfectly straight smile as soon as possible.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Shirck is an award-winning children’s orthodontist, Elite Invisalign provider, and father of three based in Powell. He encourages every parent to contact him if they think their child might require orthodontic treatment, and he makes the process nice and easy by offering FREE consultations. During this appointment, he’ll examine your child’s teeth, go over possible treatments, and answer all of your questions. To schedule this visit, click here.