Early Orthodontic Treatment
Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment. Our Cary, NC practice has an abundance of experience in getting young patients started with early orthodontic treatment.
Benefits of Early Orthodontic Evaluations
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.
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, open bite, or crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
Advantages of Early Orthodontic Treatment
The most direct results of starting treatment before all teeth erupt and the jaws develop are:
- Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
- Creating facial symmetry by influencing jaw growth
- Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
- Maintaining space for unerupted teeth if baby teeth are lost prematurely
- Reducing the need for tooth removal
- Reducing treatment time with braces after all the permanent teeth erupt
Candidates for Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment also 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.
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 and breaking. Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear causing permanent damage to teeth. Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments. Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile—it creates a healthier you over the course of a lifetime.