Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment – childhood.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur around age 7 at about the time of eruption of the upper permanent front teeth. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment. Dr. Kuperstein provides comprehensive initial examinations and re-evaluations – to children of all ages – at no charge.
What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?
Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Early intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.
Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?
By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships, and predict changes. For example, the presence of erupting incisors (front teeth) can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding, or gummy smiles. Timely screening allows for the proper treatment to be done at exactly the right time.
What are the advantages of Early Treatment?
Early treatment is also known as interceptive treatment or Phase I treatment. Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are: creating room for crowded, erupting teeth, creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth, reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth, preserving space for teeth that are coming in, reducing the need for tooth removal, and reducing Phase II treatment time with braces. Phase II treatment occurs when all of the permanent teeth erupt and usually involves a full set of braces.
Does everyone need Phase I treatment?
No. Only certain bites would benefit from early intervention. In most instances, it is best to wait until all the baby teeth are nearly gone before starting orthodontics. Dr. Kuperstein diagnoses and considers the problems of each patient individually, in order to determine the optimal time to begin treatment.
How long will Phase I treatment take?
Typically, Phase I treatment takes between 6 and 10 months, depending on the age of the patient, the type of problem being addressed, and the patient’s motivation/cooperation. Dr. Kuperstein’s strategy for treatment is to maximize the results in the shortest time possible.
If my child has Phase I treatment, will additional treatment be necessary?
Most of the time, yes. Although in some cases Phase I treatment makes it so that all the permanent teeth will erupt perfectly, additional treatment can usually be expected. Once all the permanent teeth are in, additional treatment (usually called Phase II orthodontics) would serve to put all of the adult teeth in positions of optimal comfort, function, esthetics, and long-term stability.
Can my child come to your office if Phase I was completed elsewhere?
Absolutely! We offer a complimentary consultation, even if there has been previous treatment at another office.