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 the optimal time ensures the best result possible with the least amount of complications. 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. This is an ideal time for an early phase of inteceptive orthopedic growth modification should the problems be skeletal in nature. This can also significantly reduce dental issues down the road. If the problems are primarily dental in nature, we prefer to begin just before the last baby teeth are lost. Why? Because the last baby teeth are actually larger than the permanent teeth coming behind them, and that extra space can be used to resolve crowding, resulting in a more stable result. In girls, this is typically 10 to 11 and in boys 11 to 12. As for adults, the sooner the better.
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 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 skeletal and tooth relationships. This is also an ideal age to intercept significant problems which will only get worse and more difficult to treat as the permanent teeth develop. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
As they say, " an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
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.
- Traumatic or bad bites can lead to broken and/or loss of teeth and temporo-mandibular joint problems in the future.
- Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping.
- A beautiful smile improves self confidence and is noticed by others.
- A healthy mouth promotes overall heath in general.
Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile – it creates a healthier you.