Orthodontics for Children & Teens
Orthodontics for Children
Most early orthodontic treatment begins between ages 8 and 10. However, by age 7, problems with jaw growth or emerging teeth can be identified. This is significant since many orthodontic problems are more easily and appropriately treated at an early age. For this reason, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7.
While teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem only an orthodontist may detect. If a problem is identified, immediate treatment may not be indicated. Often, mild problems are monitored on a six-month or annual basis until more growth occurs. In some cases, early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing, making treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. Typically, early treatment involves the use of orthodontic appliances to guide jaw and tooth development, creating a better environment for adult teeth as they emerge. In fact, in some cases it is not possible to achieve the same result once the face and jaws are more mature.
Orthodontics for Teens
Most patients begin comprehensive orthodontic treatment between ages 12 and 16; however, this varies depending on the individual. Because adolescents are still growing, this is often the optimal time to correct orthodontic problems and achieve excellent results.
Treatment is important because crooked or crowded teeth can be more difficult to clean, which may contribute to cavities and gum disease. An improper bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, and excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue. Without treatment, problems may become worse. Orthodontic treatment to correct a problem may prove less costly than the additional dental care required to treat these same problems in later years.
The emotional side of an unattractive smile can affect children in the formative years. When children are not confident about the way they look, self-esteem can suffer. Teenagers with orthodontic problems left untreated may go through life feeling self-conscious, hiding their teeth and their smile.
(Adapted from the American Association of Orthodontics)