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 an initial exam should take place no later than age 7. This doesn’t mean that treatment may be necessary, but it allows the orthodontist the ability to begin monitoring the eruption of permanent teeth and jaw growth and gives us the ability to anticipate any problems that might need to be addressed.
What are the benefits of an early orthodontic evaluation?
Early evaluation provides both the timely detection of problems and a greater opportunity for more effective treatment. As teeth begin to erupt it becomes possible to start evaluating the bite and jaw relationships. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later.
Some of the most direct benefits of early treatment are:
- Helping to develop the arch width and length.
- Creating more room for the crowded and erupting teeth.
- Reducing the risk of trauma to protruded or tipped teeth.
- Helping to start correcting skeletal growth differences in children during growth.
- Holding needed space for erupting teeth.
- Reducing the need for tooth removal.
Why is age 7 considered the ideal time for screening?
Children begin to get their first permanent molars between the ages of 6-7. The eruption of the first molars begins to establish the foundation for their permanent bite. It’s at this time that an orthodontist can begin to effectively evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side relationships. A timely screening increases the chances for helping to establish and incredible smile.
Because children grow at a rapid rate, appliances can be utilized to direct growth to improve the jaw and teeth alignment. Most often it is simply creating enough room to have all the permanent teeth erupt without the need for extractions. With some cases, if this early care is not provided, corrections may involve more comprehensive resolutions. Early treatment may decrease the treatment time required for the second phase.
Often, at the end of the first phase, the teeth are not in their final position, as this will be accomplished during the second phase. The primary goal of the first phase is to develop a solid foundation for the teeth. Following early treatment periodic recall appointments are set in order to check the progression of jaw growth and permanent tooth eruption.