Sometimes it is necessary to intervene early when a severe enough problem is encountered in a child who still has baby teeth. With these particular issues, correcting the issue immediately is preferred since allowing the problem to persist may cause other, more severe problems to develop. In many instances, the orthodontist has a small window of opportunity to guide a child’s growth and tooth eruption for a more favorable outcome. (See Common Early Problems)
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children be seen at the age of 7 for an orthodontic evaluation. Specifically, we would like to see the 6 year old molars have erupted and the front adult teeth have started to appear which typically occurs between the ages of 6 and 8 years old.
The majority of patients needing braces will likely be treated in one phase once all the permanent teeth have erupted. At this time patients are mature enough to understand the problem with their teeth and the importance of correction. It's also at this time that the patient may begin to be more self-conscious about their teeth and their smile. Luckily, teeth are easier to move and correct during this time period.
Orthodontics is not just for children. An increasing number of adults are seeking orthodontic treatment not only to improve their smile, but to increase their confidence and overall quality of life. Adult treatment may consist of finally seeking correction of non-addressed issues apparent since childhood, to wanting minor corrections from lack of retainer wear over time. There are now many aesthetic options to make the thought of braces less daunting. Adult patients should find out if they are candidates for clear braces or aligners/Invisalign® treatment, both of which have made great strides in allowing adults to be more comfortable with the look and feel of orthodontic appliances.