Why and When to See an Orthodontist

Age 7: An Important Visit

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist at age 7. This may surprise you because orthodontic treatment is generally associated with adolescence. An early exam, however, is very important to ensure the best possible dental health for your child.

The following early warning signs may indicate that your child should have an orthodontic examination as soon as possible:

  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Thumb or finger sucking
  • Overlapping or crowding of erupting permanent teeth
  • Jaws that tend to click or pop
  • A developing underbite, overbite, protruding front teeth, or other abnormal bite development

Although age 7 is the best time for the majority of children to have their first orthodontic examination, a visit at an even younger age is advisable if the parent, family dentist or pediatrician has noted a particular problem.

The Benefits of Early Diagnosis

Orthodontists can improve smiles at any age, but there is usually a best age for treatment to begin. An early examination allows the orthodontic specialist to determine how and when a child’s particular problem should be treated to ensure maximum improvement with the smallest amount of time and expense. In some cases, early treatment achieves results that are unattainable once the face and jaws have finished growing.

The Importance of Treatment

Every parent wants their child to have a beautiful smile – and every child ought to have a healthy one. The orthodontist’s goal is to achieve both for the patient.

Untreated malocclusions may contribute to conditions that cause tooth decay, diseased gums, bone destruction, loss of teeth, and jaw joint problems. The increased cost of dental care to treat these problems after they develop may actually exceed the cost of orthodontic treatment.

Adult Orthodontics: The Best Smile for Your Best Years!

“You are never too old to be your best” —Orthodontic treatment is always a change for the better, regardless of your age. One of every five patients in orthodontic treatment is over 21. Jaw surgery is more often required for adult orthodontic patients because their jaws are no longer growing. Adults also may have experienced some breakdown or loss of their teeth and bone that supports the teeth and may require periodontal treatment before, during and/or after orthodontic treatment. Bone loss can also limit the amount and direction of tooth movement that is advisable.

The biological process involved in tooth movement is the same in both adults and children. Adult treatment can lead to more than just a beautiful smile. Crooked teeth and improper bites can seriously affect general oral health and sometimes jaw joints (TMJ problems).

Crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain and may contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and eventual tooth loss. Improper bites can also result in abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and damage to supporting bone and gum tissue.