Best Ages for Braces
Why should children have an orthodontic screening by age 7?
While orthodontic treatment can improve smiles at any age, there is usually an optimum age to begin treatment in order to achieve maximum improvement with the minimum amount of time and expense. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age when there is more jaw growth potential. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an initial orthodontic screening by the age of 7, as by this age all of the permanent incisors (front teeth) as well as the permanent first molars should have erupted. If inadequate space exists, some of these teeth could become impacted, possibly leading to damage (resorption) to the roots of neighboring teeth. An evaluation at this time helps identify problems with eruptions. Also, Dr. Burkey can evaluate growth discrepancies of the jaws, cross-bites (when upper teeth hit inside the lower teeth), crowding, and the development of injury-prone dental protrusions. An early orthodontic screening enables Dr. Burkey to advise you if treatment will even be necessary, and if so, determine the best time for your child to be treated. There is no charge for an initial examination or for supervision reassessment examinations.
Some signs or habits that may indicate the need for an early orthodontic examination include:
- early or late loss of baby teeth
- difficulty in chewing or biting
- thumb or finger sucking
- displaced or blocked out teeth
- biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
- mouth breathing
- teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
- jaws or teeth that are out of proportion to one another
- a smile that is not symmetrical
Early treatment can mean that a patient might avoid extractions, surgery, damage to the teeth or gums, or more serious complications. Frequently, malocclusions (bad bites) are present behind seemingly acceptable smiles. Although treatment may not actually be started until years later, early examination allows Dr. Burkey to detect and evaluate problems and plan appropriate treatment for the most optimum results.
What are the benefits of an early evaluation and possible treatment?
Orthodontic treatment while the jaws and teeth are still growing and developing almost always results in treatment that is easier, faster, more effective, and often less costly. Dr. Burkey is very conservative and often waits to start treatment until most or all of the adult teeth are in. However, sometimes early treatment while some baby teeth are still present is appropriate to prevent more serious problems from developing. This early intervention generally will make comprehensive treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. Therefore, an early evaluation allows Dr. Burkey the opportunity to determine what might be in the best interest for each individual patient and keep the family informed about treatment options.
For young patients who have indications for early orthodontic intervention, this type of treatment presents an opportunity to:
- guide the growth of the jaws
- reduce the likelihood of extraction of permanent teeth
- regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches
- guide erupting permanent teeth to desirable positions
- lower the risk of traumatic injury to protruded upper incisors (front teeth)
- help eliminate harmful oral habits such as thumb or finger sucking which can cause openbites
- reduce or eliminate abnormal swallowing or some speech problems
- improve personal appearance and self-esteem
- potentially simplify and/or shorten treatment time for later comprehensive orthodontics
- reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth (teeth that should have come in, but have not)
- preserve or gain space for erupting permanent teeth
What About Adult Orthodontics?
Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. Orthodontics provides for an esthetic result and increased self confidence. It is also essential to have a good fitting occlusion (or bite) as a framework prior to restorative dentistry with implants, crowns or bridges. There has been a tremendous increase in the number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment as a result of new esthetic alternatives such as clear ceramic braces like Clarity®SL brackets, Lingual (invisible, behind the teeth) brackets, as well as Invisalign® therapy. Treatment times today are much shorter than in the past thanks to advancements such as SureSmile®Technology and the AcceleDent® System. In general, adults today do not feel as self-conscience wearing braces, as more and more adults are undergoing treatment. Orthodontics is not just for kids anymore! In fact, around a quarter of Dr. Burkey's patients are over age 18. Dr. Burkey has treated adults of all ages, even into their 70's.