The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child be evaluated for orthodontic treatment as early as age 7, and even earlier, if the parent or family dentist discovers a problem. Dr. Auter believes that some orthodontic problems may benefit from early intervention, as they are easier to minimize if treated early prior to the completion of jaw growth. Only by evaluating your child and his or her orthodontic problem can Dr. Auter determine if your child is ready for orthodontic treatment. More typically though, comprehensive treatment is started when all baby teeth are out, usually between the ages of 10 and 12.
If treatment is initiated early (commonly known as Phase I treatment), the orthodontist can:
- gain space for/guide the eruption of permanent teeth (and avoid the need for later permanent tooth extractions)
- improve the width of the upper and lower dental arches, including crossbite correction
- reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
- correct thumb sucking
- improve abnormal swallowing or speech problems
Another reason for starting early is to build confidence in a child who is very self-conscious about his or her smile.
Phase I treatment usually lasts about 12 months. You must understand that undergoing early treatment does not necessarily eliminate the need for a second phase of treatment. However, Phase I does help prepare for later comprehensive treatment by simplifying the original orthodontic problem. In this way, treatment goals can be made more attainable and be performed over shorter periods of time, thus, in many instances, reducing treatment fees.
Comprehensive treatment, whether preceded by Phase 1 treatment or not, lasts from 6 to 30 months, depending on age and the severity of the orthodontic problem. Outstanding results are also dependent on maximizing the coordination of care between you and our practice. We are committed to delivering the best possible service in order for you to achieve your orthodontic objectives.