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Dr. Fuller
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Clayton Fuller, D.D.S.- Orthodontist

312 I Street. Chula Vista, CA 91910     (619) 422-3223

What Age?

We 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 involves not 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.

Adult Treatment
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 today.

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 complex cases.

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.

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