Is this the right time for orthodontic treatment?

At Orchard of Smiles Orthodontics, we frequently receive a lot questions pertaining to timing of orthodontic treatment. As a matter of fact, here is one of the most common question that is routinely asked by patients: "Is this the right time or age for orthodontic treatment?" In terms of the ideal age - or timing - for orthodontic treatment there is no one absolute, correct answer that is applicable to all. It is important to note that the appropriate time for orthodontic treatment is patient specific for several reasons.

First, dental development varies tremendously. Although on average a child has all permanent teeth by the age of 12, some children as young as 9 have all of their permanent teeth. However, there are some 15-year old individuals that are still awaiting the eruption of one or more permanent teeth. The ultimate goal of comprehensive adolescent treatment is to align all permanent teeth ideally within each arch and between upper and lower arches, to ensure that the bite or occlusion is optimized aesthetically but also for ideal function and longevity. To that end, the dental development and eruption timetable, which tends to be patient specific, can directly affect the ideal onset timing for orthodontic treatment.

Second, the complexity of the child's malocclusion is another individual or variable factor. Some children can definitely benefit significantly from Early Orthodontic Treatment or Phase I, while others - less complex cases - may not need anything until they are in permanent adolescent dentition. American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive their first orthodontic consultation by the age of 7. That being said, usually only a small subset of the population requires any treatment that early. Overall, Early treatment is usually indicated if there is severe crowding, a cross bite or under-bite relationship, notable skeletal growth imbalance, dental relationships that predispose teeth to excessive wear or trauma, detrimental habits that can impede growth and development and impaction (inability of teeth to erupt) of permanent teeth. The most common type of Phase I or Early Orthodontic Treatment is typically expansion. Expansion in mixed dentition enables us to unravel severe crowding, correct cross-bite relationships and increase the likelihood of impacted teeth erupting on their own accord. Additionally, in severely crowded cases, expansion early on can avoid the need for extraction of permanent teeth later, with Phase II Treatment. Furthermore, expansion early on can facilitate eruption of teeth in more ideal position initially, hence simplifying the mechanics required, mitigating the level of discomfort and shortening the timeline with Phase II Treatment.

Lastly, individual's maturity, motivation and oral hygiene are also important considerations in assessing the appropriate timing of orthodontic treatment. Maturity and motivation are important considerations in treatment timing since compliance with instructions and appliance wear play a crucial role in orthodontic success. Good oral hygiene is important to avoid development of scar marks on teeth (decalcification), gingivitis and cavities.

If you are contemplating orthodontic treatment or are interested in finding out whether you or your child would be a candidate for orthodontic treatment we would be happy to answer all of your questions and schedule a complimentary consultation. Please call our office at 267.991.9690 or schedule your free consultation directly on our website 24/7. We look forward to meeting you soon!
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