submitted by Dr. Anna Morrison, DMD, MS Orthodontist, Heine & Associates Family Dentistry, www.heinefamilydental.com
As an orthodontist, I receive a lot questions pertaining to timing of orthodontic treatment. As a matter of fact, one of the most common question that is routinely asked is, “Is this the right time or age for braces?”
In terms of the ideal age – or timing – for orthodontic treatment there is no one absolute, correct answer that is applicable to all. It is important to note that the appropriate time for orthodontic treatment is patient specific for several reasons.
First, dental development varies tremendously. Although on average a child has all permanent teeth by the age of 12, some children as young as nine have all of their permanent teeth.
On the flip side, there are some 15-year-old individuals that are still awaiting the eruption of one or more permanent teeth.
The ultimate goal of comprehensive adolescent treatment (or full set of braces) is to align all permanent teeth ideally within each arch and between upper and lower arches, to ensure that the ‘bite’ or occlusion is optimized aesthetically but also for ideal function and longevity.
To that end, the dental development and eruption timetable, which tends to be patient specific, can directly affect the ideal onset timing for orthodontic treatment.
Second, the complexity of the child’s malocclusion is another individual or variable factor.
Some children can definitely benefit significantly from early orthodontic treatment or Phase I, while others – less complex cases – do not need anything until they are in permanent adolescent dentition.
American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids receive their first orthodontic consultation by the age of seven.
That being said, usually only a small subset of the population requires any treatment that early.