When should I bring
my child in for an
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the first orthodontic exam should take place no later than age 7. You may think that is too early to be worried about straightening a child’s teeth, and we agree with you! When we see a young child, we are not checking for esthetics. Instead, we are focused on problems that would be difficult or impossible to solve if we wait until later, or would require much more invasive procedures to fix if left untreated.
Phase I (Early) Treatment
When a child’s permanent teeth start to erupt, we can begin to see crowding and other bite problems. We can also assess whether the bite problems are just a simple dental problem that is can be addressed later, or whether they are a bigger issue of skeletal nature. If there are problems with the size or placement of the jaws, treating a child earlier can often be more effective than waiting until later. In some cases, early treatment may help to prevent the removal of permanent teeth later in life, or the need for surgical procedures to realign the jaws.
At the end of a Phase I treatment, teeth are often not in their final positions. This will usually be determined and accomplished in a second phase of treatment if necessary.
Dr. Jeff is conservative about early treatment, only recommending it if there is a condition inhibiting natural growth or causing asymmetric development, or if he is concerned that the patient’s permanent teeth will not be able to come in. In most cases, early treatment is not necessary, and he will just keep an eye on the patient during periodic recall appointments.
Phase II Treatment
The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. Phase II usually involves full upper and lower braces, as well as any other appliances that may be necessary to achieve a beautiful smile that will last.
The second phase usually begins when all or almost all permanent teeth have erupted, and requires braces on all the teeth for an average of 18-24 months. Retainers are worn after the braces are removed to ensure you keep your brand new smile for as long as possible.
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. If you’re considering adult braces, you’ve probably already thought about the aesthetic benefits. However, the benefits of having necessary dental and orthodontic work extend beyond just looks. Crooked teeth, improper jaw positioning, and a misaligned bite can cause problems as you age. Orthodontic treatment can be as much an investment in your oral health as it is a future confidence booster.
For those concerned about wearing “train tracks” as an adult, Dr. Jeff is well versed in other more aesthetic options such as clear brackets or Invisalign.
For those who are looking for a more aesthetic alternative to traditional braces, Invisalign is great choice! It uses a series of clear plastic trays to move your teeth, and can be hardly noticeable.