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, 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 tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, openbite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
When is the best time to begin orthodontics?
This is a question often asked by parents, especially as they see other young children in braces. Dr. White’s specialty training in orthodontics placed emphasis both on early treatment (7-10 years old) as well as treatment occurring later with all of the permanent teeth present. He has been fortunate to have the opportunity to treat numerous patients with both techniques and then review them in the following areas: finished results, duration of treatment, number of appointments and loose brackets, cooperation, and patient motivation/enthusiasm. Combining this information with new wire/appliance technology, and recent clinical research (randomized clinical trials), he has concluded that for the vast majority of young patients it best to delay treatment until most, if not all, of the permanent teeth are in.
The Reason: The five major advantages and benefits of waiting are:
- Decreased time in braces and fewer appointments, resulting in:
- Less chance of enamel damage and root shortening
- Less time absent from school and/or work
- Less opportunity for broken brackets
- Bone growth is occurring more rapidly during the adolescent years increasing treatment effectiveness.
- Understanding and cooperation are better when a child is more mature.
- Completing treatment in one phase is less costly than two phase treatment.
- Stable results-with no increased risk of permanent tooth extractions compared to two-phased treatment.
The most optimal time to realize these benefits will vary somewhat with the individual child, but for most children, it is usually between the ages of 10 ½ and 12. Orthodontic treatment begun during this window of opportunity will usually result in braces being on for 18-24 months instead of 3-4 years or more which is common with two-phase treatment.
Exceptions: There are a few orthodontic conditions that do warrant two phased treatment. These include: crossbites causing the lower jaw to shift, severe jaw imbalances, space maintenance, excessive crowding causing damage to teeth bones and/or gums, airway problems, and openbites. Additionally, if a young patient is suffering psychologically or socially from crooked teeth, a brief period of partial braces can improve the smile and patient’s self-image dramatically.
The timing of orthodontic treatment is an important issue that can make orthodontics either a rewarding and enjoyable experience or one that is prolonged and tedious. Dr. White has implemented an observation program to allow us to evaluate the patient’s dental development on a regular basis in order to begin orthodontic treatment at the appropriate time.
Are you a candidate for orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile.
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 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.