When is the best time to begin orthodontics?
Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.
Treated with upper braces and a lower removable retainer
12 months - 7 appointments
What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?
Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention including an early phase of treatment (Phase I) guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.
Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?
By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
Crowding with no space for incisors
Treated with upper braces
18 months - 11 appointments
What are the goals of Phase I treatment?
Holding and creating space for permanent teeth as baby teeth are lost is one of the primary goals of Phase I treatment. Often through proper eruption guidance, children can avoid the need for extraction of permanent teeth due to overcrowding.
An additional goal of Phase I treatment is interception of unfavorable growth patterns between the upper and lower jaws in growing children. Various orthodontic appliances can help direct and alter growth of the jaws.
What happens if my child is a Phase I candidate?
If your child is a candidate for Phase I treatment, Dr. Beck will take x-rays, photos, and study models to determine an appropriate plan of action and the appropriate orthodontic appliances needed to correct your child's problem. Phase I treatment usually occurs over a 12 to18 month period of time with orthodontic visits occurring every 6-8 weeks.
At the end of Phase I treatment, your child will probably wear a removable retainer as the remaining baby teeth are lost and the permanent teeth erupt. Dr. Beck routinely evaluates Phase I retention patients every 8 to12 weeks monitoring changes and intervening if necessary as the new permanent teeth make way into the mouth. A successful first phase of treatment will create space for the permanent teeth to erupt and make an improvement in the growth relation between the upper and lower jaws. However, it is important to understand that the permanent teeth are not in their final positions. A second phase of treatment is almost always needed to place the teeth in their proper position for esthetics and harmony.