What is the Right Age for Orthodontics?
Most parents were raised at a time when their dentist told them to wait until they were 15 or 16 years old to have orthodontic work started. They were told that if orthodontics were started at an earlier age, the teeth would shift after treatment and the benefits would be compromised.
Fortunately, our knowledge of growth and development has advanced since then and most well trained orthodontists and pediatric dentists recognize that many situations are better treated at a younger age: six, seven or eight years of age. Treatment at these earlier ages can eliminate:
- Habits that can be detrimental to jaw developments such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing
- Permanent jaw shifting due to cross bites
- Extraction of teeth at a later date due to severe crowding
- The increased probability of permanent damage to the upper front teeth that protrude too far forward in the case of trauma or a fall
- Psychological damage or damage to self esteem due to peer teasing
- Future full orthodontic treatment
Children at younger ages can have their growth more properly directed to correct many of these situations. However, not all types of bites require early treatment. Some children have mild bite discrepancies and can wait until the are 10, 11 or even 12 years old to treat.
The best way to find out if your child needs orthodontic treatment is to have your child evaluated by an orthodontist by age seven.