Best Age for Treatment
Orthodontists can successfully correct most problems, but timing of the treatment is often important to the overall outcome. In fact, it may play a significant role in the total time and expenses required for the completion of the orthodontic treatment.
Early Intervention - Does my child REALLY need early treatment?
So you've noticed more and more kids are getting braces earlier and earlier. Parents are often assuming (and sometimes being told) that two separate phases of braces will save them cost and save their child overall time in braces. Although there are SOME cases where this is absolutely true, the most current research in orthodontics today suggest that the majority of children between the ages of 7-10 are better off waiting until they are older (with more adult teeth present) in order to simply correct their bite and teeth in one single phase of treatment rather than two separate phases. HOWEVER, in the same breath that I tell you most children will not need early treatment, I cannot stress enough the importance of getting your child screened at the age of 7 in order to identify the 5-10% of children who can benefit from early treatment.
These patients are the reason why the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children should have an orthodontic screening by age 7. Orthodontists are looking for very specific things at this screening - crossbites, severe crowding, early loss of baby teeth, late loss of baby teeth, abnormal jaw growth patterns, finger/thumb habits, teeth that are stuck up in the bone, and teeth that are erupting into places in which they should not. Identifying the 5-10% of children who have one or more of these items listed is extremely important and it's exactly why the AAO recommends the screening. The great news is that many of these items that require early treatment often times do not require extensive treatment to fix - and some of them only require treatments as simple as strategically "wiggling" out some baby teeth or placing a space maintainer in order to allow for the proper eruption of adult teeth. Although these items are often an easy fix at an early age, if they are left untreated, the complexity (and cost) of the treatment could significantly increase when they are older. For instance, correcting many types of crossbites at a young age is very predictable and easy for an orthodontist to correct. In contrast, waiting to correct a skeletal crossbite until teenage or adult years often times is not possible without the need for jaw surgery.
So now that you know the importance of getting your child screened by the age of 7, you should also rest assured that the majority of children who are screened do not need early treatment. In fact, I would seriously question any orthodontist who says that every child can benefit from early orthodontic care - today's orthodontic research simply says this is NOT the case. In our practice, only about 5-10% of children who are screened at the age of 7 actually end up needing early intervention in order to prevent surgeries or tooth extractions later in life. The majority of young patients are simply placed on a recall program in order to continue monitoring the eruption of their permanent teeth and growth until the perfect time for braces (and only if absolutely necessary).
So now you know. Get your child screened by an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. Although most children will not need early treatment, if you don't get a screening early, then you really are taking a risk for your child, no matter how small it may be.
Adolescence is the ideal time to treat the majority of cases, as we are able to take advantage of patients’ growth in order to correct underlying skeletal discrepancies between the upper and lower jaws. This allows us to not only help provide the most esthetic smile possible, but also to ensure the most functional bite. Also, while most teens choose to get traditional metal braces, teens will often have the choice of using a more esthetic option such as invisible clear braces or Invisalign Teen.
Orthodontic treatment is becoming extremely popular among adults. At Collins Orthodontics, we provide many types of esthetic treatment options such as Invisalign and Ceramic Brackets in order to make sure our adult patients are comfortable with the appearance of their appliances during treatment.