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. Beginning treatment at this 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 at approximately age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not yet be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment, as well as make the most treatment options available for the patient.
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 more serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment at the most opportune time.
Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?
By the age of 7, the first adult molars are usually erupted, establishing the biting relationship of the back teeth. 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 underbite, overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
What are the advantages of interceptive treatment?
Interceptive treatment generally means an early phase of partial braces that is recommended to address specific concerns. In most cases, the interceptive treatment will be followed by an interim retention period and a second phase of treatment involving full braces, once all the permanent teeth are erupted. Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:
- creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
- crossbite correction
- 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 permanent tooth removal
- reducing treatment time with full braces
Are you a candidate for orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment is not exclusively for improving the appearance of the teeth and smile. Orthodontic treatment is also used for improvement of incorrect bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment and can affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile. Leaving malocclusion uncorrected can result in excessive wear or fracture of the teeth, sometimes necessitating fillings, crowns or other restorative treatment.
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, uneven tooth wear or chipping of the teeth. Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.
Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile – it creates a healthier you.