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When is the best time to begin orthodontics?

Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment.

Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. 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. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but Dr. Appel will monitor your child’s tooth alignment with periodic recall exams free of charge.

What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?

Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, Dr. Appel can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.

Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?

By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.

What are the advantages of early treatment?

Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:

  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time with braces

Here are some early warning signs:

  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Open bite (front teeth do not overlap)
  • Crowded teeth
  • Excessively spaced teeth
  • Crossbite (upper teeth bite inside lower teeth)
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Speech problem
  • Mouth breathing
  • Harmful oral habits (thumb/lip sucking)
  • Tongue thrust

If any of these problems are noted by parents, regardless of age, it is advisable to consult Dr. Appel. It is not necessary to wait until age 7 for an orthodontic check-up.

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