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. In most circumstances, treatment is not recommended at this young age even if the teeth are not all perfectly straight, but a vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.
Why is the age of 7 considered the optimal time for screening?
By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt establishing the back bite. It is also the age when the front incisor teeth come in. At this young age, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of these permanent adult teeth can indicate problems with crossbite(s), overbite, open bite, crowding, or gummy smiles. It is also at this young age that bad habits, like thumb sucking, can negatively affect the position of the adult teeth. Early evaluation provides timely detection of these problems and can help prevent them from becoming worse.
While an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal. Well-timed screening increases the chances that you and Dr. Chad will be able to choose the appropriate time to ensure the greatest results in the least amount of time and in the most cost effective manner.
What are the advantages of interceptive treatment?
Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:
- Creating room for crowded teeth
- Creating facial symmetry by influencing jaw growth
- Reducing the risk of trauma or damage to protruding front teeth (teeth that stick out)
- Preserving space for unerupted teeth when baby teeth are lost early
- Reducing the need for tooth removal
- Assisting in the elimination of habits that negatively influence tooth position