The Most Commonly Asked Questions In Orthodontics
One of the most commonly asked questions is at what age should I bring my child in for an orthodontic examination? Of course, orthodontics can be done at any age; certain problems are best corrected at specific ages. Although individual dental and jaw growth problems determine the best time to start orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child should have an orthodontic screening no later than age 7.
The sooner orthodontic facts are faced, the better a family can plan for, and understand the benefits of correction. Although rarely is treatment required much earlier than age 7, some very difficult to correct growth problems can be corrected early. These types of problems may not be correctable, even at age twelve, without surgical intervention. Unfortunately, many parents assume they must wait until their child has all of his or her permanent teeth before considering orthodontic alignment. Oftentimes, parents find out that treatment would have been much easier for their child to go through if started earlier.
Early orthodontic treatment can have a tremendous impact on a young person’s dental health and emotional well-being. Almost all children feel better about themselves when they can smile, and their classmates don’t make fun of them. No child should wait until reaching their “teens” to feel good about his or her smile.
Most people associate orthodontic treatment with teenage children, however, orthodontists can spot developing problems with jaw growth or with the teeth much earlier, while the primary or “baby” teeth are present. Some of the more noticeable conditions that indicate the need for early examination include:
Early or late loss of teeth
Difficulty in chewing or biting
Teeth that meet abnormally, or don’t meet at all
Crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
Biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
Jaws that are too far forward or back
When appropriate, early orthodontic treatment, commonly referred to as Phase One, can begin when children are 6 to 10 years of age.
Patient cooperation (always necessary for successful orthodontic treatment) is commonly excellent at early ages.
There are a variety of orthodontic appliances designed to guide jawbone growth. In some patients, early treatment achieves results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing. The combination of an actively growing patient along with enthusiasm in this young age produces results that cannot be achieved when treatment is delayed until all the permanent teeth have grown in during the 11 to 13 age group.
Early treatment can prevent serious dental problems and eliminate the need for more drastic measures down the road. Most bite problems are inherited, although these dental problems cannot be prevented, early diagnosis and correction can help return the bite to a normal growth pattern.
Benefits of Early Treatment…
Improves a child’s self-esteem.
Commonly avoids the need for permanent tooth removal, jaw surgery, and the associated discomfort and costs.
Creates adequate space preventing complications relating to impacted eyeteeth.
Early intervention can make the completion of treatment at a later age easier, reducing the total time in braces as a teenager.
Pre-teen patients are commonly more enthusiastic about wearing braces leading to better cooperation.
Helps avoid the high risk of fracture to protruding front teeth.
Enables the orthodontist to direct the growth of the jaws to accommodate tooth size.
When an overbite or underbite is corrected facial balance is restored and jaws are realigned into an ideal growth pattern.
Early Diagnosis can provide peace of mind.
The function of the teeth is improved.
Improved tooth alignment makes brushing and flossing easier.
Long-term stability is improved.
After The First Stage of Treatment…
When orthodontic treatment is required while “baby” teeth are still present in the mouth, this treatment is necessary to correct a growth problem. In most cases, the second phase of treatment (Full Braces) is required when all the permanent teeth are ready to grow in. This second stage is necessary to complete the tooth and bite alignment and is quite often referred to as the finishing stage.
The time between the first and second phases of treatment can vary from patient to patient. During this time, retainers are worn as needed and the patient continues to be seen by the orthodontist and is re-examined on a regular basis.
The need for two treatment phases means that the original jaw growth and dental development showed enough complications to require early intervention. This also means more time, effort, braces, and expense related to treatment, however, the rewards are well worth it.