I often get asked when is the best time to have a child’s teeth looked at to see if there are any orthodontic problems. Around the world opinions vary on this but generally most orthodontists will say that between 7 and 9 is a good age for an assessment, unless you already know that there is an existing problem.
Sometimes when the adult incisors come through and upper front tooth might be reversed in the bite (crossbite). This can happen as early as 6. Those sorts of cases can be seen as early as the problem is detected.
The advantage of early orthodontic assessment is to identify problems that require early intervention. While lots of things are fixed in braces when the adult teeth arrive which is commonly between the ages of 11-12. Certain types of problems need to be addressed earlier. The first example is the one I have already mentioned – a front tooth reversed in the bite. These are often easy to detect early and easy to correct early often with a simple plate.
Some problems however are not so simple. Occasionally front teeth don't come through at all and this can be due to excess tooth material blocking the path to eruption. An example of this would be a midline mesiodens – a type of odontome. Other types of problems that need to be looked at are ectopic eruption (teeth that are significantly displaced from where they should be), posterior crossbites (reversed bite of back teeth), alkalosis of baby teeth (teeth that appear to submerge). Typically your dentist will detect that there is a problem and refer you to the orthodontist.
In general though I try to limit the amount of early work I do if it is clear from an early point that braces are going to be required in the long term. This is to prevent an excessive amount of cost and effort prior to the "main game" braces later.
I believe that early treatment is best when
While there are many philosophies of orthodontic treatment I found in my 25 years of practice, that this approach sets a fair balance between intervening when you need to and waiting when it is more efficient to treat in 1 phase rather than 2 or 3.
Full braces can’t be undertaken definitively until all the adult teeth are through. Choosing the best age for this is then after the permanent teeth are erupted. I have treated patients in their 50's and 60's.
While there are a handful of situations where it is important to have the braces put on fairly early generally most things can be correct well into the adult years. The decision on when to treat often becomes a social and logistic question. When is the most convenient time and when will my child feel most comfortable having the braces. Typically this still tends to be in the early teens when their friends are also having treatment.
Whenever the teeth have been straightened these days we tend to retain long term to prevent movement. This would apply if a child having braces finishes at age 14 or 15 or an adult at age 45 or 50.
You don't need to have a dentist referral for your child to see an orthodontist. At Ocean Orthodontics, if your child is not ready for treatment you are placed on our continuing care program, which offers free ongoing consultations with you and your child until they are ready for treatment.
For more information on our orthodontic treatment for children, or to book an appointment, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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