What is the Best Age to Start Orthodontic Treatment?

For some patients, orthodontic treatment may be appropriate as they’re beginning elementary school. For others, the right timing may be closer to the start of high school. The appropriate time to start orthodontic treatment isn’t based on a specific age. Instead, it depends on the type of problem that exists and the physical development of the patient. 

Emanuel Mizrahi, DDS, of Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates in Forest Hills, New York, provides professional orthodontic treatment for children, teens, and adults. After a thorough examination, Dr. Mizrahi develops a customized treatment plan and timeline to deliver the best possible results.

Whether treatment involves traditional braces, Invisalign® clear aligners, or Damon Clear® self-ligating braces, Dr. Mizrahi has the expertise necessary to help patients achieve stunning smiles. In this blog, Dr. Mizrahi, explains how timing affects orthodontic treatment.

Early evaluation

Whether your child is exhibiting visible orthodontic issues or not, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children have an initial orthodontic exam by age 7 unless their dentist advises a visit at an earlier age. While an evaluation is recommended at this age, it doesn’t mean that your child will require treatment. 

At age 7, most children have enough permanent teeth to allow an orthodontist to evaluate how their teeth and jaws are developing. Even though your child may still have some baby teeth, starting some types of orthodontic treatment at this stage may prevent issues from becoming more complex problems. 

When necessary, treatment at an early age may be easier, because your child’s jawbones are still developing, so they’re softer and more malleable. This means it may be easier to treat some conditions before the jawbones become denser with age. 

Beginning treatment

An early evaluation can help an orthodontist identify the following conditions that may require early intervention:

If your child has a problem that requires early intervention, it may require correction with braces or another type of dental appliance. Treatment at this stage is often called “Stage 1” or interceptive orthodontics, and it usually doesn’t involve straightening crooked teeth. 

Stage 1 treatment may include the use of fixed or removable appliances that can change the position of the jaw, move teeth, or hold teeth in their proper positions. A palatal expander is one example of a Stage 1 appliance. This can be used to expand the roof of the mouth to make room for permanent teeth to erupt. 

Most children who undergo Stage 1 treatment return for Stage 2 treatment, which typically involves straightening their teeth once their permanent ones are in place. For many children, having Stage 1 treatment can make Stage 2 treatment faster and less complicated.

If your child doesn’t need Stage 1 treatment, their orthodontic treatment will likely begin when most of their permanent teeth have erupted, typically between ages 8-14.

Teens and adults

While it’s considered optimal to begin orthodontic treatment while a child’s jaws are still developing, you can correct orthodontic problems at any age. Today’s dental technology can correct all types of cosmetic and functional orthodontic problems for patients in their teens and older. In fact, adults represent one in four orthodontic patients.

Leaving orthodontic problems untreated can cause damage to your teeth, gums, and jawbones, and it can also make it more difficult to maintain daily dental hygiene. But with treatment options that are less noticeable and more convenient than traditional braces, orthodontics can be a manageable process for older teens and adults.

Whether you’re considering orthodontic treatment for your child or yourself, there’s no time like the present to take the first step. To get a personal consultation, book an appointment over the phone with Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates today.

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