Early Prevention

Does your child need to see an orthodontist?

When should your child see an orthodontist in Asheville?

If ignored, dental issues can have a significant impact on your child’s overall well-being. That being said, it’s not always clear when you should take your child to see an orthodontist. Often, parents are referred by their family dentist. While this works well, proactive parents in Asheville may find this information valuable.

What Does the American Association of Orthodontists Recommend? 

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist as early as age seven, soon after your child has started losing his or her baby teeth. This allows the orthodontist to evaluate your child’s smile and determine whether orthodontic treatment is needed.

Here at BRO, we begin observing children’s dental health as young as age 3, see many children at age 6, and typically begin treatment around age 11. The majority of our patients are kids – but we treat all ages: children, teens, adults and seniors. We recognize that every patient has unique needs — and we’re committed to providing personalized attention and care to all ages.

What Does Orthodontic Treatment for My Child Entail? 

Early treatment (also known as Phase 1) can begin as early as age six. The goal of early treatment is to correct jaw growth and certain bite problems. Another important aspect of Phase One also helps the jaw to make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, reducing the chance that extractions will be needed in the future.

Many kids under 11 years old are not ready for treatment, but catching certain issues earlier can avoid more extensive and costly treatment later. You don’t have to wait for a referral from your dentist. And there is no charge for follow-up observations until your child is ready for treatment!

Phase 2 begins at age 11 or older – when most or all of the permanent teeth are in, but before the jaw bones have hardened and stopped growing.

At Blue Ridge Orthodontics, we offer free new patient consultations. Just call our office at 828-585-6045 or complete our online form to schedule today. We’ll take x-rays or photos, and then you’ll meet with one of our doctors to discuss your child’s smile at no cost.

What Are the Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment?

There are several real benefits to seeking early orthodontic treatment. If you had braces when you were younger, you likely got them during your teen years. This is one reason why many parents may question the need for orthodontic intervention at younger ages.

The field of orthodontics has advanced significantly in recent years. In many cases, early orthodontic treatment can significantly benefit a child’s jaw development and prevent more extensive or costly treatment later on. Phases of early orthodontic intervention can be broken down as follows:

Phase 1: Early Treatment

This phase of treatment is employed for our youngest patients, ages 2 to 6. The most concerning issues we see during these ages are:

  • Underdeveloped dental arches
  • Loss of primary teeth at a premature stage
  • Thumb-sucking or other oral habits

While it may sound odd to seek treatment at such an early stage, cases that start young tend to be very successful and can eliminate the need for any further orthodontic treatment in the future.

Blue Ridge Orthodontics is one of the leading providers of early treatment in the Asheville area. The doctors at BRO can evaluate your child’s unique smile to determine whether orthodontic treatment is recommended and the best time to begin.

Phase 2: Mixed Dentition

The next phase of orthodontic treatment covers patients from age 6 to 12. It is during this time (usually between 6 and 7) that your child’s first permanent molars erupt, as well as the permanent incisors, or front teeth. The most common reasons for treatment during these ages are:

  • Dental realignment
  • Jaw malrelationships

Even if you missed Phase 1, this is an excellent time to seek orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontic research studies have shown that more significant issues can be corrected with a greater degree of success when the patient’s jaw is still developing. Most children have lost all their baby teeth by the time they’re done with seventh grade. By their twenties, the jaw bones have hardened and stopped growing. Instead of waiting to correct the structure of the permanent teeth, early orthodontic treatment sets the stage for teeth to come in straight.

Early Signs Your Child May Need to See an Orthodontist

Signs that your child may need early orthodontic treatment:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (usually children begin to lose baby teeth around age five)
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb-sucking now or in the past
  • Speech impediments
  • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
  • Teeth that don’t come together normally or at all
  • Too much space between teeth
  • Jaw shifting when opening or closing the mouth (crossbite)
  • Crowded front teeth

What Causes Orthodontic Issues in Young Children?

Here at BRO, we talk with lots of parents – and it’s not uncommon to feel concerned about what might cause orthodontic problems for your young child. Some of the most common causes we see at Blue Ridge Orthodontics include:

  • Loss of baby teeth coming too early or too late
  • Certain thumb-sucking habits
  • Inherited problems, such as a bad bite
  • Injuries to the mouth
  • Jaw growth problems, such as malocclusions

Common Malocclusions

So what exactly do we mean by malocclusion? This is a jaw problem that causes a difference in the size of the top and bottom jaw. In North Carolina, about 15 percent of children have a malocclusion that causes physical discomfort and/or impairs their ability to chew food. If your child has a significant jaw problem, please call us at 828-585-6045, and we can set up a free consultation at our offices in Asheville, Hendersonville or Brevard.

When malocclusions aren’t treated at an early stage, they can have a long-term impact on your child’s health, well-being and self-confidence. The most common malocclusions we see at BRO include:


Ideally, the teeth should fit within the mouth without any spacing or crowding issues – but, this is not always the case. Overcrowding is the most common type of malocclusion we see at BRO. While this is a very common issue, it’s doesn’t always require early orthodontic treatment. Some acute cases of overcrowding correct themselves over time as the child’s jaw grows and matures, but it is best to have your child’s smile evaluated by a professional to know for certain.

Open Bite

Take a look at your child’s front teeth when they bite down. If there is some space between them and the bottom teeth, this is a malocclusion known as an open bite. The top and bottom rows usually grow closer together on their own as children get older. However, some open bites do not closer on their own, so scheduling the first free consultation at a younger age is a good idea.


In certain cases, a child’s upper jaw may be significantly larger than the lower. This creates a malocclusion known as an overbite. While the top teeth are supposed to overlap the bottom by a little, this abnormality causes a more distinct protrusion.

At Blue Ridge Orthodontics, we treat this type of malocclusion in two phases. For early orthodontic treatment, our doctors might employ a special appliance that helps guide the jaw growth as your child’s adult teeth come in. The second phase may require braces in order to guide these new teeth into their proper places.


This is the exact opposite of an overbite – the lower jaw is larger than the upper. It is usually much easier to treat an underbite at an earlier stage, rather than waiting until your child has reached their adolescent years when the jaw is more matured. We treat this type of malocclusion all the time.


Does your child have a tooth that seems oddly close to their cheek or tongue in comparison to the corresponding tooth in the lower or upper row? This could be the result of a malocclusion called the crossbite. While this can be treated when your child gets older, our doctors recommend early orthodontic treatment to correct these cases – because we see a greater degree of success when the patient’s jaw is not as developed.

What To Expect from Your First Orthodontic Consultation

If you’re coming to Blue Ridge Orthodontics for your first consultation, you can expect to hear one of three things:

  • We tell you that there aren’t any issues with your child’s teeth and bite, so treatment isn’t needed.
  • We identify a problem that we’d like to monitor for a period of time.
  • We spot a more serious issue and recommend orthodontic treatment for your child.

Ready for a Complimentary Initial Exam?

“The earlier, the better” is the name of the game when it comes to prevention.

Orthodontic procedures for adults often require more time and are more likely to involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Opting for early orthodontic treatment can prevent the need for more extensive procedures in the future.

If you call 828-585-6045 or fill out our online form today, we can schedule a complimentary initial exam at a convenient time for you and your child at one of our offices in Asheville, Hendersonville or Brevard.

Our team at BRO is committed to making sure your child’s smile is one they’ll feel confident wearing for a lifetime!

Make an appointment for a free new patient exam today!

We’ll help you take the first step toward a new smile for your child.