Interceptive (Early) Treatment
We thoroughly believe in the timely treatment of orthodontic problems; and we do not recommend treatment unless it is entirely necessary at any particular age. There are some types of orthodontic problems, however, that are best addressed as early as seven years. One of the most common types of early treatment is expansion of the upper jaw. This is necessary when the upper jaw, or maxilla, is too narrow to fit well with the lower jaw. At the early childhood ages, this expansion can be accomplished predictably and painlessly. If left unaddressed until adolescence, the maxillary expansion may not be able to be done with a predictable result, or may require surgery to correct.
Other types of early interceptive treatment include the correction of crowding, retraction of upper teeth that are too protrusive and may be at increased risk of fracture from trauma, correction of negative overjet (often referred to as underbite) where the lower teeth protrude in front of the upper, and early correction of disfiguring tooth mal-relationships when they are adversely affecting the patient's developing self-image. Interceptive treatment times typically range from 6-12 months.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an evaluation by age seven. If in doubt as to whether or not your child has an orthodontic problem that may require early treatment, we would be glad to perform a simple examination to determine the nature of the problem. This is a courtesy visit. The good news is that the vast majority of younger children do not require interceptive treatment. We are very conservative with our treatment recommendations and only suggest interceptive treatment when it is absolutely necessary.
Adolescent (Comprehensive) Treatment
The ideal time for most patients to start comprehensive orthodontic treatment is between the ages of 10 and 12. The dental development from patient to patient is extremely variable, and females typically mature dentally about six months ahead of males. This stage of orthodontic treatment may involve not only braces, but also other appliances that may help guide the teeth and jaws as they develop during the adolescent growth spurt. Adolescent treatment times typically range from 15-30 months.
While many adolescents like to show off their personality by customizing the color of their braces at each appointment, others would like to keep things more discreet. For those patients, we are able to offer ceramic (clear, tooth colored braces), and Invisalign, an esthetic alternative to braces, for those whose bite problem (malocclusion) meets the treatment criteria.