Early Treatment

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 vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.

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, an orthodontist 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 interceptive 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

Common problems caused by thumb sucking.

It is easy to understand how comforting a sucking habit can be to a child. With gentle supervision, it is normally very easy to help a child quit the habit before any damage is done. However, persistent thumb or finger sucking beyond a certain age can cause significant tooth misalignment or jaw deformation. The degree of disruption depends on several factors, such as how forceful the habit is, how often, and up to what age the habit is continuing.

Common problems caused by thumb sucking include:

  • Protrusive upper front teeth. This can be a simple tooth position problem, where the upper incisor teeth are tipped forward. Occasionally, the formation of the jaw can be affected, and the upper jaw and teeth will develop in a protrusive relationship to the rest of the face.
  • Tipped back lower front teeth. The pressure of the thumb forces the lower incisor teeth to tip toward the tongue.
  • Open bite. The upper and lower front teeth do not overlap when the back teeth are together. The shape of the opening between the upper and lower front teeth may match the child’s finger or thumb exactly.
  • Crossbite. The formation of the upper jaw is too narrow for the lower jaw, so the upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly. This seems to occur as a result of the flexing of the cheek muscles during sucking.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call our offices:

Pike Creek Office  302-239-4600
Fairfax Office 302-425-4800