When to Start Orthodontic Treatment

when to start orthodontic treatment

A little-known fact as to when to start orthodontic treatment often catches parents by surprise. Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have their first orthodontic evaluation by age 7? This might seem early, but early detection and treatment of potential issues can pave the way for a lifetime of healthy, beautiful smiles. At Randall Orthodontics, we are dedicated to helping our patients achieve optimal oral health through timely and effective orthodontic care.

Importance of Early Orthodontic Evaluation

Why Early Evaluation is Crucial:

Early orthodontic evaluations are essential because they allow us to identify and address problems before they become more severe. Detecting issues early can make treatment easier and more effective. Preventative care can often eliminate the need for more extensive procedures later on. The mouth is very malleable when we are young and still growing which makes preventative treatments easier, helps prevent more serious treatments in the future, and gives a good foundation for dental development.

Age for First Evaluation:

The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that children should have their first orthodontic check-up no later than age 7. With this recommendation, there isn’t a “best age” to begin treatments but 7 is generally a good time to become aware of your child’s orthodontic health. At this age, children still have a mix of their baby teeth as well as permanent teeth. This can help the orthodontist identify subtle issues with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present.

You don’t need to wait until your child is 7 years old in order to come in. If you notice something that appears off or out of the ordinary you can bring your child in for an evaluation. The Orthodontist will be able to let you know if there is something that needs to be adjusted or if they see future orthodontic problems that will need treatment as the mouth develops.

Signs Your Child May Need Orthodontic Treatment

Common Indicators:

As a parent, you might wonder what signs to look for that indicate your child could benefit from orthodontic treatment. Here are some common indicators:

  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Crowded, misplaced, or blocked-out teeth
  • Jaws that shift, make sounds, or are misaligned
  • Other Signs:
  • Other signs that might not be as obvious but still indicate a need for orthodontic attention include:
  • Speech difficulties
  • Facial imbalance or asymmetry
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth

Benefits of Early Treatment

Correcting Jaw Growth:

One of the significant benefits of early orthodontic treatment is the ability to guide jaw growth. This can help create a more symmetrical facial structure, which is beneficial for both appearance and function.

Reducing the Risk of Trauma:

Children with protruding front teeth are more susceptible to dental injuries. Early orthodontic treatment can correct these issues and reduce the risk of dental trauma.

Simplifying Future Treatment:

Addressing orthodontic issues early can make future treatments shorter and less complex. This can result in less time spent in braces and a more straightforward treatment process overall.

Improving Self-Esteem:

A beautiful smile can significantly boost a child’s confidence. Early orthodontic treatment can help ensure that children develop a positive self-image during their formative years my mitigating any issues with crooked teeth or misaligned bites.

Orthodontic Treatment Options for Different Ages

Child Orthodontics:

For younger children, orthodontic treatment often focuses on addressing developmental issues early to prevent more severe problems later on. Here are some common treatment options for children:

  • Space Maintainers: If a child loses a baby tooth prematurely, a space maintainer can help keep the space open until the permanent tooth erupts. This prevents surrounding teeth from shifting into the empty space, ensuring proper alignment of the future adult teeth.
  • Early Braces: Limited braces may be used to address specific issues such as crossbites or severe crowding. Early intervention can guide the growth of the jaw and permanent teeth, making later treatments simpler and more effective.
  • Palatal Expanders: These devices are used to widen the upper jaw so that the upper and lower teeth will fit together better. They are particularly useful in correcting crossbites and creating more space for crowded teeth.
  • Functional Appliances: These are used to correct issues related to jaw growth, such as underbites or overbites. Functional appliances can guide the jaw to grow in the correct direction, improving facial symmetry and function.

Teen Orthodontics: The teenage years are an ideal time for orthodontic treatment because most, if not all, of the permanent teeth have erupted, and the jaw is still growing. Teens have several options to choose from, depending on their specific needs and lifestyle:

  • Metal Braces: Metal braces are the most common and effective form of orthodontic treatment. Today’s metal braces are smaller, more comfortable, and more efficient than ever before. They are highly effective in treating a wide range of orthodontic issues.
  • Ceramic Braces: These work the same way as traditional metal braces but are made of clear or tooth-colored materials, making them less noticeable. Ceramic braces are a popular choice for teens who are concerned about the aesthetics of braces.
  • Clear Aligners: Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, are a series of custom-made, removable trays that gradually straighten teeth. They are an excellent option for teens who want a nearly invisible treatment. Aligners must be worn for 20-22 hours a day and are removed for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing.

Adult Orthodontics: Orthodontic treatment is not just for children and teens; many adults are choosing to improve their smiles too and begin orthodontic treatment. Advances in orthodontic technology have made treatments more comfortable and less noticeable. Here are some options available for adults:

  • Clear Aligners: Like for teens, clear aligners are a popular choice for adults due to their discreet appearance and convenience. They are particularly appealing to adults who want to straighten their teeth without the visibility of traditional braces.
  • Ceramic Braces: Ceramic braces are an excellent option for adults who need the effectiveness of traditional braces but want a less noticeable treatment. They blend in with the natural color of the teeth, providing a more aesthetic option.
  • Self-Ligating Braces: These braces use a slide mechanism instead of elastics to hold the wire, which means they can be more comfortable and require fewer adjustments. They are available in both metal and ceramic options.
  • Surgical Orthodontics: In some cases, adult orthodontic treatment may require surgical intervention to correct severe jaw discrepancies. Orthognathic surgery can improve both function and appearance, offering a comprehensive solution for complex cases.

Each of these treatment options is tailored to the unique needs and preferences of the patient, ensuring effective and personalized care.

How to Start the Process at Randall Orthodontics

Orthodontic appointment, begin orthodontic treatment

Scheduling a Consultation:

The first step in starting orthodontic treatment is scheduling a consultation with us. During this initial visit, we will assess your or your child’s orthodontic needs and discuss the best treatment options. The best part about this is that your consultation is free.

Customized Treatment Plans:

At Randall Orthodontics, we pride ourselves on creating customized treatment plans tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our goal is to ensure the best possible outcomes with the most comfortable and efficient treatment methods.

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