Getting braces to straighten out teeth has become a rite of passage for children in the United States, as important as getting one’s first car or graduating from high school. According to the American Association of Orthodontics, 3.9 million children are undergoing orthodontic procedures in the United States. So this begs the question, who should see an orthodontist, and at what age should they do so?
Reasons for Needing Orthodontic Procedure
Crooked teeth can have a variety of causes. Some teeth imperfections can have a genetic cause. But habits in early childhood, such as thumb sucking and nail-biting, can cause teeth to become misaligned, create an overbite for the upper teeth, and thus make one a good candidate for seeing the orthodontist. Sometimes baby teeth become misaligned, causing the emergence of adult teeth to be blocked.
When You Should First Visit the Orthodontist
Generally, a child should have their first orthodontist exam at age seven, when they have a combination of baby and adult teeth. At that age, an orthodontist can determine early if and when an orthodontal treatment should be undertaken. An orthodontist will be able to spot problems with chewing and biting, jaws that are misaligned, teeth that protrude too far back or too far forward, lower and upper teeth that meet abnormally, and the late or early loss of baby teeth.
When to Expect Orthodontic Treatments
Generally, a child would start orthodontal treatment between the ages of nine and 14. At those ages, permanent teeth have already emerged. Treatments can proceed earlier than that age range if the orthodontist detects severe problems that need addressing immediately during the initial exam.
For most children, a single-phase treatment is appropriate, and this involves the implanting of braces to align the teeth properly. The child will use a retainer at night to force the teeth into proper alignment. Treatment, in general, lasts about two years.
If the orthodontist detects severe problems earlier than age nine, when baby teeth are still present, a two-phase treatment will be recommended. The first phase lasts one to three years to align the child’s jaw. Once the permanent teeth are in, the second phase will complete the process and last another two years.
Orthodontist treatment will ensure a healthy bite and an appealing smile. Age-appropriate orthodontist work will also enhance oral hygiene and save trouble and expense later in life if the procedure is delayed. To learn more about orthodontic practices, or to schedule an appointment, give Mint Hill Ortho a call today!