When most people think of orthodontics, they think of teenagers. And the fact is, most orthodontic treatment begins between the ages of 9 and 14, however, by age 7, most children have a mix of adult and baby teeth. Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. That's important, because some orthodontic problems are easier to correct if they're found early.
For these reasons, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child get an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7. While your child's teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem that only an orthodontist can detect. Of course, the check-up may reveal that your child's bite is fine, and that can be comforting news.
In some cases, Dr. Dow might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment. This is sometimes referred to as "Phase I Treatment". Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing, and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. Typically, early treatment involves the use of orthodontic appliances, which may be removable, to guide the growth of young bones and create a better environment for adult teeth as they emerge. This first phase is done while the child still has many or most of their primary or "baby" teeth present. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that wouldn't be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing. Early treatment gives your orthodontist the chance to:
- Guide jaw growth
- Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Improve appearance and self-esteem
- Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
- Improve the way lips meet
The goals of Phase I/Early Treatment:
- Prevent a problem from developing
- Intercept a developing problem
- Guide the growth of the jaw bones that support the teeth
Most patients will require a second stage of treatment, often with traditional braces, to complete the tooth and jaw alignment that was started during the first phase of treatment.
What is the goal of Phase II?
- A proper relationship of teeth and jaws, so that they work correctly
- Correct alignment of the teeth, for a beautiful smile
- Positioning of the teeth and jaws for an attractive face and profile
We see many adults who want to straighten their teeth and correct their bite. Often, they have never had braces or orthodontic care before. It is also common for us to work with your general dentist to prepare your teeth for cosmetic dental work such as veneers, impants, bonding and bleaching. We offer a variety of treatment options for our adult patients including Invisalign® and clear braces. The best way to find out which method is best for you is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Dow.