This question is difficult to really give a solid answer to – it ultimately depends on the child, and what their dental needs are. While every child should regularly see a dentist, this is not necessarily the case with an orthodontist, although some people might disagree. If you suspect your child is having oral problems, such as with chewing or swallowing, then you should first consult your dentist, and he or she will be able to advise you further in the matter.
There is an upper limit by which the most invasive work should be finished – think of dentists and their insistence that if you are having your wisdom teeth out, to do it while in your twenties – because eventually children do lose the bone elasticity and flexibility which allows them to grow so effectively, and heal so effectively. Work done before this point will be quite traumatic, depending on the age of the child, but will work more effectively, as the child will be able to grow into the new work, and also heal more quickly than an adult.
This is, of course, a warning against moving too quickly to an orthodontic solution. Children grow in every way through the years – what is flagged as a potential problem in a five year old may have disappeared by the time the child is six. This is why seeking dental tips from your dentist is key –they will be able to tell you if something is a potential problem, or if it is something that is nothing to worry about. The cliché of a teenager with headgear exists for a reason – because teenagers are in that sweet spot where everything is mostly where it will be in their adult years, but they are still more malleable than adults when it comes to dental structuring.
Types of Treatment
There are a variety of different orthodontic treatments available, and the type of treatment can have an effect on when and how it is used. Younger children may respond better to some of the less invasive treatments, such as a removable brace, while older ones might benefit from the treatments which take longer, and require more input.
Treatment is very dependent on a number of factors – can the child take the equipment involved (people can allergic to the glue used for putting braces on, for example), is the problem which orthodontics would correct really something that is so bad it requires correction, and does everybody involved agree that it is the best course of action? You should only go forward with orthodontic work for your child if you have at least considered all of the above questions.
Orthodontic work can fix a lot of problems, and it is especially useful for correcting defects which could turn into problems later in life. But there is much debate over when children should be introduced to orthodontics, with people on either side of the issue. There are pros and cons to either side, and so it should always be a carefully considered issue.