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Timing of Orthodontic Treatment

At what age should my child have braces?

There is an ideal time to treat each orthodontic problem. Therefore, depending on which type of problem your child has, the ideal time for treatment will be different.  Some problems need to be treated as soon as they are diagnosed, which means a child might need treatment when they are very young perhaps between 5 and 9 years old.  Some problems need to be treated while the lower jaw is in its peak growth mode (about a year before puberty) even if there are still baby teeth in the mouth.  Other problems can wait until all the permanent teeth are in the mouth. The best way to be certain that your child is treated at the ideal time is to see an orthodontist early.  This way the orthodontist can monitor your child's development and assure that the problem will be treated at the ideal time.

Dr. Driscoll will review the medical and dental history with you and ask you about the concerns that have caused you to seek an orthodontic examination.

Why do I see so many kids in braces when they are only 9 or 10 years old? Do they do things differently now?

Some orthodontic problems need to be treated as soon as they are diagnosed, otherwise they could interfere with the growth of the face or with permanent teeth coming into the mouth.  Although most orthodontic problems can be treated during adolescence with all the permanent teeth in the mouth, children with these problems need them addressed early with a short phase of interceptive treatment to put them back on the right track.  If treatment of those problems is delayed until the permanent teeth are in or until they have had more facial growth, they may become more severe and much more complicated to correct. Most kids who have interceptive treatment, have problems that will require a second phase of full braces once the permanent teeth are all in the mouth. Thus, interceptive treatment in childhood is not performed instead of treatment in adolescence. It is performed in addition to further treatment in adolescence.

When is the best time to correct an overbite?

Orthodontic treatment to correct an overbite needs to be performed while a patient is going through their peak growth phase, when the lower jaw gets most of its growth.  The age will be different for girls compared to boys. Girls have a very short window of growth.  They reach their peak growth and need to be in treatment a year before they reach puberty.  So, for some girls this could be at age 10, and for other girls it could be age 11 1/2 or 12.  This means many girls with a severe overbite will need to be treated while there are still baby teeth present.  For boys, the window of opportunity is easier to capture.  Boys grow for a period of 3-5 years around puberty.  In most cases treatment of an overbite can wait until the permanent teeth are all in the mouth, but it should be started before the voice changes and before there is facial hair.   So the ideal age for boys to start treatment can range from 12 to 14.

Once Dr. Driscoll has explained the treatment and answered your questions, the office manager will go over the financial arrangements with you and schedule the appointments to begin treatment.

What is the ideal time to correct a crossbite?

A crossbite should be corrected as soon as it is diagnosed. Otherwise, it may interfere with the growth of the face.  This means that most crossbites are corrected while there are still baby teeth in the mouth.  In some cases if treatment of a crossbite is delayed too long, surgical correction could be necessary.

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