The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic screening for children by the age of 7 years. At age 7 the teeth and jaws are developed enough so that the dentist or orthodontist can see if there will be any serious bite problems in the future. Most of the time treatment is not necessary at age 7, but it gives the parents and dentist time to watch the development of the patient and decide on the best mode of treatment. When you have time on your side, you can plan ahead and prevent the formation of serious problems.
Research has shown that serious orthodontic problems can be more easily corrected when the patient’s skeleton is still growing and flexible. We can prepare the mouth for the eventual eruption of the permanent teeth by correcting the skeletal problems at a younger age. If the permanent teeth have adequate space to erupt they will come in fairly straight. If the teeth erupt fairly straight, their tendency to get crooked again after the braces come off is diminished significantly. After the permanent teeth have erupted - usually from age 12-14 - complete braces are placed for final alignment and detailing of the bite. Thus, the final stage of treatment is quicker and easier on the patient. The last phase of treatment usually lasts from 12 - 18 months and is not started until all of the permanent teeth are erupted.
Doing orthodontic treatments in two steps provides excellent results, often allowing the doctor to avoid removal of permanent teeth and jaw surgery.
- Phase-1 treatment is conducted when some of the baby teeth are still present is called.
- Phase-2 treatment occurs after all of the permanent teeth have erupted.
Crowded teeth, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, premature loss of baby teeth, and a poor breathing airway can all contribute to poor tooth positioning. Hereditary factors such as extra teeth, large teeth, missing teeth, wide spacing and small jaws - all can be causes of crowded teeth.
Tooth movement is a natural response to light pressure over a period of time. Pressure is applied by using a variety of orthodontic appliances. The most common orthodontic hardwear are braces or brackets attached to the teeth and connected by an arch wire. Periodically changing these arch wires puts pressure on the teeth. At different stages of treatment your child may wear headgear, elastics, a positioner or a retainer. Most orthodontic appointments are scheduled 4 to 6 weeks apart to give the teeth time to move.
Discomfort may result when teeth are first moved. This usually lasts about 24 to 72 hours. Patients report a lessening of pain as the treatment progresses. Pain medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) usually help relieve the pain.