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When is the best time to get braces?

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By Jeffrey Jordan Jordan Orthodontics

Orthodontic treatment today is about faces not just braces. Consequently, facial esthetics dictates the proper timing for treatment.

While treatment can contribute to the physical and psychological development of patients young and old, some patients require early intervention. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an initial visit to an orthodontist at age 7 for this reason. Most patients do not need early treatment, but if necessary, amazing improvements in facial esthetics and function can be accomplished. The common orthodontic problems that can be treated in between 7 and 9 years old include underbites and severe overbites as well as patients with crossbites and openbites. These conditions are considered muscular skeletal problems and are best addressed in the mixed dentition when the permanent front teeth are erupting. These treatments are referred to as dentofacial orthopedics because we are working with the bones of the face and not just the teeth.

The majority of patients benefit from a single treatment during adolescence, as the last few primary teeth are lost and the second molars erupt.  The exact age varies, but most patients are treated during the middle school years and can be completed by high school. Of course, sometimes the teeth are slow to erupt and this can delay the completion of treatment. For this reason, starting treatment too early can prolong treatment duration and result in orthodontic burnout for the patients. Patient cooperation is important in keeping the treatments short in duration and efficient. Interestingly, girl’s teeth erupt earlier than boys of the same age.

Teenagers are usually in a rapid growth phase during this period. As a result, dramatic results can be achieved with improved facial esthetics and function. For example, the smile can be made wider, the lower jaw can be advanced, or a gummy smile can be eliminated. A smile analysis dictates in what direction the teeth and jaws should be moved. These changes can be life altering for some patients during the teen years.

Of course, adults want to look good too, and orthodontic treatment for adults is more popular than ever! Invisalign, clear braces, and improvements in surgical techniques make having a fantastic smile easier too. The bulky braces and heavy forces of yesteryear are a thing of the past.

Invisalign is a series of clear aligners that move the teeth. Each aligner moves the teeth a quarter of a millimeter and is worn for about two weeks. The number of aligners is dictated by how crowded or spaced out your teeth are at the beginning.

Clear or ceramic braces combined with new superelastic memory wires have made traditional orthodontic treatment more esthetic and more efficient and comfortable . The teeth move a little every day and the forces on the teeth are very light.

For more dramatic changes, orthognathic surgery can totally transform ones appearance if necessary. Adults who desire improved facial esthetics can benefit from orthodontics combined with surgery to correct facial imbalances. In this situation, the braces are placed on the teeth for about six months prior to surgery and remain on the teeth for a few months after the procedure.
So the best time to get treatment is when you or your child is ready to improve that smile! It’s about faces not just braces. ■


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