As cliche as it may sound, age is indeed just a number especially when it comes to your smile. If anything, it is reassuring to know there is no age limit or requirement when it comes to getting that enviable, beautiful, and vibrant smile. Fortunately, nowadays, orthodontics and braces can help ensure you achieve that gorgeous smile you have always dreamed of.
However, if you’re a parent you most likely have questions about orthodontics and braces that you need answers to before you can decide if it is indeed the best option available for the kids.
One of the most prevalent questions parents ask is when the right time is for kids to get braces and how age can affect the treatment. If this is something you’re also concerned about, this article can help make things clearer for you.
Braces and Orthodontic Screening
If you suspect your child needs braces, the first thing you need to do is pay your orthodontist a visit. Orthodontists specialise in the diagnosis and correction of problems that involve the teeth and the face and they will be able to assess if braces can help your child.
Many experts recommend that evaluation should start by the time the child turns 7 years of age. In some cases however, some factors or circumstances will warrant an earlier intervention. For instance:
- There is excessive overcrowding of the teeth
- The upper and lower front teeth fails to meet (open bites)
- The upper teeth protrudes past the lower teeth (overbites)
- The lower teeth protrudes past the upper teeth (underbites)
- The lower and upper jaw fail to line up (crossbites)
Phase I and II Treatment
The phase I treatment (also sometimes referred to as the early intervention treatment), begins before the permanent teeth have grown in. So this is typically done when the child is around 6 to 10 years of age.
The phase I treatment is often done to correct oral problems such as cross bites and overbites and make space for developing teeth. Phase I treatment will often only require limited dental hardware such as partial braces and expanders.
Phase II treatment (also known as comprehensive treatment) often starts when the child is around 11 to 13 years of age and when all the permanent teeth have already grown in. This treatment typically requires full braces.
The orthodontist will decide if phase I or II is needed, often depending on the state of the teeth and whether or not an early intervention would be best.
The Benefits of Early Examinations
Having the child examined at an early age has numerous advantages, including:
- Long-term treatment can be determined early
- Oral problems are identified and addressed early
- Teeth can be easily guided for braces, thereby reducing the time they need to be worn
As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that parents consult with an orthodontist to identify the best treatment plan available. While not always the best option in all cases, it is reassuring to know that braces often do more than just straighten the teeth. More than anything, they can also help enhance a child’s self-confidence dramatically by enhancing their smile.