You may need to check out your orthodontic needs early!
Your dentist may suggest an early orthodontic appointment to determine if early treatment is necessary or appropriate for your child. Sometimes early treatment will result in shorter and less complicated treatment at a later age or it may achieve results that would not be possible once the jaws and face had stopped growing. Occasionally early treatment is undertaken to protect teeth from damage.
Often in earlier generations, orthodontic treatment involved continual extraction of “baby” teeth to make way for adult teeth. Later it was found that this sometimes caused problems that were very difficult to fix later on. Today this method is used less widely and careful monitoring occurs.
Orthodontics treatment usually occurs at 3 different stages of life:
- Early treatment: At 7 to 9 years of age some simple treatment may be undertaken if the pattern of the bite is causing some damage (such as excessive wear or gum damage) to the newly erupted adult teeth. Between the ages of 10 and 12 years some treatment may be undertaken to correct some problems such as a narrow upper jaw and protrusion of the upper front teeth. In some instances with crowding of the teeth, some treatment at this time will mean that adult teeth do not have to be removed later to make room.
- Teenage treatment: Most people are able to start orthodontic treatment once the last baby teeth are lost. This varies from about the ages of 11 years to 16 years. Often this treatment involves a person with teeth that are too big to fit into their mouth neatly. Usually braces are used.
- Adult treatment:Adult treatment: More adults than ever before are seeking orthodontic treatment. Many of these patients either did not have the opportunity to have treatment at an earlier age, or at that time it was not a priority for them. We find adult patients cope with treatment exceedingly well. We use clear braces on the upper front teeth to give the best aesthetic appearance. Treatment in adults can take longer due to the slower movement of teeth through the jaw bone in response to the orthodontics. However, in many cases this mild disadvantage is offset by the high levels of compliance with the treatment instructions (such as cleaning and diet) we see in adults. Some adults ask us about clear aligners (clear plates without braces) and braces on the inside of the teeth. Our view is at this time these techniques do not consistently provide the same level of treatment result as the clear braces, and are considerably more expensive.
Orthodontic treatment is not just for teenagers. We can discuss your options with you.
How long will orthodontic treatment take?
Orthodontic treatment can mean moving a single tooth a very short distance or it can involve jaw surgery and braces. Therefore it is impossible to generalise about how long orthodontic treatment will take but…
Most full treatment with braces take approximately 2 years with appointments for orthodontic adjustments and monitoring very 6 to 10 weeks. More complex problems may take longer. Various claims as to new magic inventions shortening the treatment time dramatically are more marketing than substance. Independent published studies of a large number of practices report the actual average treatment times to be about 2 years and few months. Some patients would take longer, and some need less time. Treatment with braces is followed by an appliance (known as a retainer) being placed to hold the teeth in their new position.
Each case is different and a consultation is necessary to determine the approximate treatment time.