usually think of adolescence as the time to wear braces.
The reason for this is because of the rapid growth rate
that is occurring. This growth is needed as orthodontics
only movement of the teeth, but movement of the jaws as
well. The teeth can be moved at any age, but controlling the movement of the jaws can only happen in growing individuals.
What is the best age for a child to be seen by the orthodontist?
There is no simple answer to this question. It is best to
have your child seen at any age you notice a problem. In
most cases, everything will prove to be normal or the problem
can be treated during adolescence. The guidelines of the
American Association of Orthodontists recommend an orthodontic
exam by age 7. At this age, the six-year molars and several
other permanent teeth will have come in, which will allow
the orthodontist to evaluate any problems that may be developing.
Most young children do not need any treatment, but how can
you tell for sure? As orthodontic problems do not cause
any pain that would alert you when something is wrong. Orthodontists
are not only experts in straightening teeth, they are also
experts in the growth and development of your child's mouth,
jaws, and face.
Some problems are easy to correct at an early age. However,
if you wait too long, they may become a serious problem
that will require extensive treatment. In some cases, children
as young as 4 years of age will have significant problems.
When jaw irregularities are present, having them treated
early will not only allow you to prevent them from getting
worse, it will also allow you to achieve a result that may
not be possible when the jaws have finished growing. Early
detection is the key.
Some early problems to watch out for are: front teeth that
don't meet when biting; speech patterns not shared by other
kids their age; thumb sucking; protruded teeth; crossbite;
and overlapping or crowded front teeth.
An important thing to remember is that you're never too
old to get braces! Although it is easier to do at an early
age, the truth is that healthy teeth can be moved at any
age. Although most adult patients are in their 20's and
30's, it's not uncommon for patients to be in their 50's
Some adult problems are easy to correct, while others can
be complex. The easy ones are: closing a gap between two
teeth; straightening front teeth; and aligning a few teeth
for your dentist to make a bridge. The more complex cases
are challenging because of the fact that skeletal growth
has ended and you can no longer influence the movement of
the jaws. Treatment may extend from just a few months for
the easy cases, to as much as 24 months or more for the
Adult orthodontic treatment can be very rewarding. Straight
teeth are less prone to decay, chipping, and excessive wear
caused by a bad bite. Orthodontics can also boost a person's
self-image by creating an attractive, healthy smile. With
all the technological advances that have come along in the
last few years, adults are now able to enjoy excellent results.