When to See an Orthodontist

Affordable Braces & Expert Treatment

Many families in and around Birmingham have questions about orthodontic treatment, but are unsure when and where to start. Fortunately, the team at PT Orthodontics is committed to giving patients the knowledge and advice to make great decisions about your care. We proudly serve Adamsville, Cahaba Heights, Gadsden, Gardendale, Mountain BrookHoover, LeedsTrussville Pell CityHueytown, Jasper, Tuscaloosa, Oxford and the surrounding communities. To find an office near you, see our PT Ortho locations!

If you’ve been thinking about orthodontic treatment for yourself or someone you care about, you’re probably wondering: When is the right time to see an orthodontist? It’s an excellent question, and there are several ways we can help you find the answers you’re looking for.

Learn More About Achieving Straight Teeth

The most straight forward answer is this: You should see an orthodontist any time you have a question about the alignment of your teeth, the quality of your bite, or if there are changes in your mouth or jaw. Sometimes, orthodontic problems are painfully obvious. You may have difficulty biting, chewing or speaking, or some of your teeth may be clearly protruding, crowded or misplaced. If that’s the case, then it’s time to consult with our office — Our orthodontists have the special skills and training needed to accurately diagnose and treat the problem.

Other conditions may not be as apparent and are often overlooked. Symptoms such as mouth breathing, clenching or grinding your teeth, and the inability to comfortably close your lips, may all be signs that orthodontic treatment is needed. Likewise, if your jaws seem to frequently shift in position, make sounds as they move, or you find that you’re unintentionally biting your cheek or the roof of your mouth, it is likely that you are a candidate for orthodontic treatment. Teeth that meet abnormally can even cause a facial imbalance (asymmetry), meaning that some facial features aren’t in proportion with others. This is a problem that can usually be corrected by orthodontic treatment.

Orthodontics for Children

We recommend your child’s first visit occur between ages 6 and 8. Depending on what, if any, problems are identified, early diagnosis allows appropriate treatment to address and correct issues quickly, before they become more serious. This chart shows some of the most common bite and mouth problems for children in this age range:


There are several reasons that the American Academy of Orthodontists (AAO) has recommended that children receive an orthodontic exam around age 6, including:

  • Tooth, gum and jaw development can vary at this stage, meaning only an expert may be able to determine whether your child is experiencing normal patterns of development or if some type of intervention is actually necessary. Normally, the PT Orthodontics experts can identify if there will be adequate room in your child’s mouth to accommodate the permanent teeth by this age.
  • Most conditions are easier and faster to treat at an early stage, because the natural growth process is still active. A palatal expander, for example, is often able to fully treat crossbites in children because their jaw is still growing and shifting. If left untreated, an adult with a severe crossbite may require expensive and lengthy oral surgery in order to achieve the same result.
  • Other problems often seen in children that may also benefit from orthodontic treatment include: the premature or delayed loss of baby teeth, persistent thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing. If your child displays any of these symptoms, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with PT Ortho. Keep in mind that early screening does not necessarily mean treatment will begin right away — In fact, most kids don’t start wearing braces or appliances until they’re around nine to fourteen years old.

Orthodontics for Adults

It’s never too late to begin orthodontic treatment! Do you cover your mouth with your hand when you smile? Are you self-conscious around strangers because your smile isn’t as perfect as you want it to be? If so, the best time to see an orthodontist might be — right now! According to the AAO, around one in five orthodontic patients today are adults. Why are more adults getting orthodontic treatment? There are plenty of reasons.


For adult patients, compliance with our recommendations tends to be much higher, resulting in faster, highly successful treatment. With the growing availability of clear braces, invisible aligners, translucent ceramic brackets and lingual braces, patients are able to complete treatment with minimal change to their appearance – other than their smile! If you’re worried that metal braces might affect your professional image, be sure to ask about the wide range of less-visible alternatives available at PT Orthodontics.

While a beautiful smile is a great reason to consider orthodontic treatment, many of our patients find that the health benefits are enormous. Well-aligned teeth are easier to clean and maintain, and less subject to abnormal wear. A better bite will keep you from having trouble eating and speaking, and can protect the health of your teeth for a lifetime.

More Questions About Braces & Orthodontics?

If you’re considering treatment, or just want to find out if orthodontics can help you achieve a healthier smile, our team can give you the tools you need make the best decision. PT Orthodontics has eleven locations to serve the Birmingham area, in Adamsville, Cahaba Heights, Gadsden, Gardendale, Hoover, Hueytown, Jasper, Leeds, Mountain Brook, Oxford, Pell City, Trussville, Tuscaloosa Schedule your complimentary consultation exam!