Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AA0), the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, treatment may not be necessary, but this crucial examination can reveal the most advantageous time to begin treatment. Remember, we are happy to provide an initial exam at no cost to help parents with their concerns.
Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. By age 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. This is the ideal time to evaluate tooth and jaw relationships before jaw growth has slowed and before a bite problem becomes progressively worse. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
According to studies by the AAO, untreated malocclusions, bad bites, can result in a variety of problems such as:
- Crowded teeth leading to poor oral hygiene, tooth decay and/or gum disease.
- Protruding teeth susceptible to accidental chipping.
- Cross bites resulting in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear.
- Open bites resulting in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.
The advantages of interceptive treatment, or Phase 1 treatment, are:
- Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
- Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
- Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
- Reducing the need for tooth removal
- Reducing treatment time with braces
If treatment is needed, after a short time the Phase 1 appliances will be removed and the teeth will be allowed to grow naturally. Once all the permanent teeth are in place, Phase II treatment, or comprehensive orthodontics begins with a full set of braces.
Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile – it creates a healthier you.