For Children and Adults
Orthodontics for Children
It is recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists that children by age 7 be evaluated by an orthodontist to advise if orthodontic treatment is required and determine the best time for the patient to be treated. The first permanent molars and incisors have usually come in by that time and crossbites, crowding, and other skeletal and growth problems can be evaluated. On these patients, when treatment begins early, the orthodontist can guide the growth of the jaw and the incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment can also correct the width of the upper and lower dental arches, increase space for permanent teeth, decrease/avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb-sucking and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment with these issues can redirect growth and greatly simplify future treatment needs.
If there are no skeletal growth issues, then early treatment may not be necessary. Future comprehensive treatment when all primary (baby) teeth are gone and the permanent teeth have come in may be the treatment of choice.
Orthodontics for Adults
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Many adults did not have the opportunity to have orthodontic treatment as a teen but certainly appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. In contrast, now one of every five patients in orthodontic treatment is over 21. Jaw surgery in combination with orthodontic treatment is more often required for adult orthodontic patients that have skeletal imbalances because they are no longer growing, preventing growth guidance. Adults may also have experienced some breakdown/loss of their teeth and bone that supports the teeth. These patients may require periodontal treatment before, during, and/or after orthodontic treatment to ensure the healthy foundation to maintain their smile. Bone loss can also limit the amount and direction of tooth movement that is advisable, so treatment of adults and children are different in many ways, yet both can end with the smile you have always wanted.