When is the best time to begin orthodontics?
Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment which varies by individual. Beginning treatment at this optimal time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. Of course, at this early age, orthodontic treatment is usually not necessary, but early evaluation can anticipate the most advantageous time at which to begin treatment. If orthodontic treatment is not indicated yet we will carefully monitor the growth and development of the child and begin treatment when the time is ideal.
Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?
By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite and the permanent front teeth known as incisors also begin to erupt. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. It is not necessary to have a referral from your family dentist for this complimentary evaluation.
What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?
Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Sometimes prudent early intervention, known as interceptive treatment, is necessary in order to guide growth and development, preventing serious problems later.
What are the advantages of interceptive treatment?
Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:
Creating room for crowded, erupting permanent teeth
Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
Preserving space for unerupted teeth
Reducing the need for tooth removal
Reducing treatment time with braces
Eliminating harmful habits such as thumb or finger sucking and tongue thrusting
Correcting crossbites by expanding a narrow jaw which may not be possible later
Are you a candidate for orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile.
Why should malocclusions be treated?
According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems:
Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease.
Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping.
Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear.
Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.
Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile – it creates a healthier you.