When to Start Orthodontic Treatment

When to Start Orthodontic Treatment

As smilification experts, we are often asked, “When is the best time to get braces?”

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic evaluation by 7 years of age. Adults of all ages are seeking treatment these days to boost their confidence and improve their smile.

Orthodontic Treatment for Children

For children, an orthodontic evaluation doesn’t necessarily lead to orthodontic treatment at that early age. It is just an evaluation to check how their development is progressing, to ensure that things are coming along fine, and to identify any potential problems at an early stage. The majority of children will not require any orthodontic treatment until most of the permanent teeth have erupted. Remember, braces could cause side effects, apart from being uncomfortable for a young child, therefore, treatment should be warranted.

Orthodontic treatment can be done in two phases. Phase one, “interceptive” orthodontics and phase two, “comprehensive” orthodontic treatment.
Interceptive treatment is done in young children only if there is a good reason to do so. Problems such as cross bites, a thumb sucking habit, finger sucking, tongue thrusting, clefts, or severe space deficiencies causing crowding can require interceptive treatment. The purpose of early interception is to ensure proper development and growth of jaws and facial bones. Be advised, if your dentist recommends early treatment, it is always wise to seek second or third opinions. Very often, orthodontic treatment can safely be postponed up until most of the baby teeth are gone, around age 11 or 12.

Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment

Interceptive treatment is not to avoid phase two of the treatment, but to make it easier for later treatments and to resolve problems while the child is still growing. Interceptive treatment is especially imperative in cases where the facial symmetry can be adjusted by influencing the growing jaws; selectively extracting teeth to guide erupting teeth into correct positions; retaining space for unerupted teeth; or reducing trauma to protruding teeth. If your child does require interceptive orthodontic treatment, this treatment should be of a short duration, anywhere from 3 to 18 months.

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Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment

Phase two or “comprehensive” orthodontic treatment should be started after all permanent teeth have erupted. It can be done either as a follow up to phase one treatment or as a comprehensive treatment by itself. All permanent teeth except the third molars usually erupt by age twelve. Most dental malocclusions can be treated orthodontically by using appliances, braces, elastics, etc. The length of treatment varies with each case and on an average it is around 18-24 months.

Orthodontic Treatment for Adults

Most people think orthodontic treatment is mainly for children or youngsters. That is not true. Adults can also have their teeth straightened and bites corrected without any issues. As long as one’s general health condition, the bone surrounding the teeth, the root length of the teeth, and the periodontal/gums and soft tissue condition is favorable, teeth can be moved and stabilized in new positions.

In cases where any periodontal condition exists that could hinder treatment outcome, that would need to be rectified first before starting any orthodontic treatment. One should also consult a general physician before starting orthodontic treatment. In the case where there is any bleeding disorder, leukemia, uncontrolled diabetes, heart-valve disease, etc, that could have an effect on one’s treatment outcomes and general health. In the case where one is prescribed any medications that can impact movement of teeth, the patient is advised to look at the possibility of having prescriptions altered for the time being while undergoing orthodontic treatment.

However, these days with the advent of lingual orthodontics, ceramic braces, and clear aligner systems like Invisalign, it has become very convenient for adults to undergo orthodontic treatment without inconveniencing one’s daily routine. These “braces” are hardly noticeable and do not make you feel awkward about having braces.

Everyone deserves to have a smile that boosts their self-esteem and it is never too late or too early to realize this. The right treatment, at the right time, by the right orthodontist can make a huge difference for those who know the value of a healthy, happy smile.

Again, it is important to find a good and experienced orthodontic office near you to seek treatment in those cases that requires orthodontic correction. Only orthodontist is best suited to meet your needs and to properly diagnose, treat, and maintain the results.