For the last several blogs, we have been discussing many different considerations in orthodontic treatment. We have looked at the facial aging process in adults. The rationale of several treatment choices have been discussed, along with their effects on the patient’s orthodontic outcome. Strategies to lessen the frequency of requiring permanent tooth extraction as part of orthodontic care have been highlighted. Finally, we outlined the development of more recent orthodontic technologies which increase treatment envelopes making the desired results more attainable with less invasive processes.
Having considered all this, when is the best time to get started? Do we have to wait for all of the primary or baby teeth to be replaced by permanent teeth? If left, will a child grow out of an orthodontic problem? Can severe problems be controlled early thus limiting the need for more difficult treatments?
Both the Canadian and American Association of Orthodontists recommend that a child’s first orthodontic check-up be no later than 7 years of age. There are several developing orthodontic problems that can be intercepted. Treatment is intended to free up the growth and development of the young patient’s jaw structure and allow them to remain on an improved path of facial growth and jaw development.
If excessive permanent extractions or jaw surgeries are to be avoided, may treatments may need to be started as early as age 8 or 9. The apparent straightness of front teeth have little to do with orthodontic need at this age. The focus here is on available space, jaw arch width and jaw co-ordination. These considerations are most important in accommodating the increasing tooth mass between baby and adult teeth. Often, the child’s natural jaw growth will not enough to house all the teeth, let alone in the correct bite location. Patients do not outgrow their orthodontic problems, they grow into them.
At check-ups, the orthodontist will detect developing bite problems that can be treated early. Monitoring may occur at first if the problem is not yet suitable for an efficient correction. When ready, these may be able to be completely corrected or at least controlled to lessen the severity of more difficult treatment at a later time.
Assessments will be made to lower the risk to protruding front teeth, improve dental and facial appearance and improve lip posture. Indeed, early treatment may prevent the development of more serious problems and in so doing make the treatment easier and more enjoyable for the child and family.
In many instances, early intervention allows for treatment outcomes that would be much more difficult to achieve in non-growing preteens, teens and adult patients. In the goal for facial enhancement through orthodontic treatment, early detection can be invaluable.
Dr. Joel Schacher
Phone: (905) 281-8200
Fax: (905) 281-8188