We often hear patients wondering when it is time to begin orthodontic treatment. We also know some people wonder if they are too late. However, depending on their diagnosis, anyone from age eight and up can benefit from orthodontic treatment.
When to start treatment is a question best answered by an orthodontist. Orthodontics is a specialty in dentistry that addresses the positions of a patient’s jaws and teeth to improve their oral health and their smile. An orthodontist is a dentist who, in addition to four years at dental school, spends at least two additional years in school and training in orthodontics. Orthodontists have the expertise to correct issues with patients’ bites, misalignments of the teeth and jaw, and spacing issues.
While sometimes mistaken for an esthetic specialty, orthodontists are much more than that. Yes, their work will improve the look of a smile. However, it is essential to treat the underlying issues that can detract from your smile, too. Left untreated, bite problems that range from overcrowding and misalignments worsen over time and lead to issues that are much more serious than having an imperfect looking smile.
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children see an orthodontist for an assessment by age 7. Often, your regular dentist recommends a consultation during a child’s regular oral healthcare visits. At this early consultation, the orthodontists will decide if they want to begin right away with specific treatments that are easier to treat when a child is young, like palatal expanders for tooth crowding.
However, even if you are older than seven (even way far past the 7-year mark), you should start by seeing an orthodontist. An orthodontist will be able to come up with a treatment plan that is age-appropriate for your diagnosis and life stage. Moreover, there are different approaches they take based on the patients’ age.
While there is no official “start date” for treatment that is true for everybody, many patients have orthodontic treatment between the ages of 10 and 14. There are a few reasons for this, which include:
- The head and mouth are still growing, which creates a favorable environment for moving teeth.
- The patient has lost most of their baby teeth, and most of the permanent teeth have erupted.
- The patient is old enough to maintain their oral care with braces.
However, modern orthodontic treatment can also begin much earlier or later in a patient’s life. Per the AAO, the process is the same for moving teeth, no matter the age of the patient. All teeth move in response to force over time. In some cases, treatment begins right after the early consultation. Adult teeth can also benefit from treatment. Many times, adult teeth can be moved just as easily as children’s teeth.
There are differences in treating adults, however. The significant difference is that adults’ jaw and the supporting bone are no longer developing, which can make the orthodontic treatment take longer for adults. Also, there could be a need for additional procedures like surgery to correct problems with an adult’s bite. Moreover, an adult patient’s habits can affect the treatment outcome, habits like smoking, grinding teeth, tongue thrust (which is when you push your tongue against the teeth when you swallow) affect the treatment outcome. The medication you take for other conditions can, too, as well as previous dental treatments. Also, some dental insurance companies do not cover the cost of orthodontics after the age of 18.
When you start treatment has a lot of factors driving it. The good news is that you can have orthodontic treatment at any age with fantastic results. However, one thing is the same about all modern orthodontic treatment: no matter how old you are when you begin, it all starts with your consultation with an orthodontist.
To schedule your free consultation today, call Bloom Orthodontics office in Long Beach at 562-421-8883.
Bloom Orthodontics in Long Beach has a long history of improving our patients’ smiles. We provide modern orthodontic treatments delivered with old fashioned excellence in patient experience. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
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“Am I Too Old for Orthodontic Treatment?” aaoinfo.org. 3 November 2017. Web. 3 March 2020. <https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/am-i-too-old-for-orthodontic-treatment/>.