When is the best time to begin orthodontics?
Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, and generally most people think of teens with braces, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. 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. At this early age, children with braces may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.
What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?
Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, Dr. Enoch and Dr. Lamei can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it 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. 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. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
ARE YOU A CANDIDATE FOR ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT?
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.
BENEFITS OF EARLY TREATMENT
For those patients who have clear indications for early orthodontic prevention, early treatment for children with braces presents an opportunity to:
- Guide the growth of the jaw,
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches (the arch-shaped jaw bone that supports the teeth)
- Guide incoming permanent teeth into desirable positions
- Lower risk of trauma (accidents) to protruding upper incisors (front teeth)
- Correct harmful oral habits such as thumb-or finger-sucking
- Reduce or eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems
- Improve personal appearance and self-esteem
- Potentially simplify and/or shorten treatment time for later corrective orthodontics
- Reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth (teeth that should have come in, but have not)
- Preserve or gain space for permanent teeth that are coming in