The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child see an orthodontist at age 7 to evaluate eruption timing and pattern and determine whether or not there are any orthodontic problems that need to be addressed early. At age 7, children typically have their 6-year molars in place and have lost 2-6 baby teeth, so we can start to see the eruption patterns present with his/her permanent teeth.

Although we recommend the first visit at age 7, we see patients of all ages, and each patient is unique and different. Kids, teens, and adults seek orthodontic treatment for various reasons. Our job is to customize your plan to meet your orthodontic needs and make orthodontic treatment a stress-free and fun process for you and/or your child. That process starts with your new patient consultation appointment.

What happens at your new patient consultation appointment?

Your consultation appointment is fun, easy, and free! We will take some photos, take a look at your child’s/your teeth, and take one or two x-rays to evaluate growth and tooth development, eruption, and position.

What do we look for at your child’s first visit?

  • Are things happening symmetrically within the mouth?
  • Were any baby teeth lost earlier than expected?
  • Are permanent teeth developing and coming in when and where they should be?
  • Are the permanent canines developing in the right place?
  • Are there any missing or extra teeth?
  • Is there enough space for the permanent teeth to come in?
  • Are there any habits (e.g. thumb sucking) that might need to be addressed?
  • How is your child growing? Is early growth leading to an overbite or underbite?
  • Is there a crossbite in the front or the back?

These are some of the things we can begin to evaluate at age 7, and although most patients don’t start orthodontic treatment until around age 11 or 12 (when all or most of the permanent teeth are in), studies have shown that some early treatment, such as crossbite correction, is most beneficial and effective starting at age 8 because of tooth eruption patterns and growth patterns (i.e. how and when your upper and lower jaws grow). By seeing your child around age 7, we can catch any orthodontic problems early and help prevent some orthodontic issues by intervening if needed. We take a conservative approach, and only recommend treatment if necessary. More often than not, we just need to monitor growth and eruption with orthodontic “check-ups”, called growth observation appointments, about every 6-12 months.

Do you need a referral to see an orthodontist?

Nope! Although many pediatric dentists and dentists can and do make referrals to orthodontists for specific reasons, you do not need a referral to see an orthodontist. Anyone can come see us without needing a referral! You can call (804-256-2808), email (, or submit our online form to set up your new patient consultation appointment. We can’t wait to meet you and get to know you and your family!