At what age should a child first visit the orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that most children should have an orthodontic screening by age 7. This allows Dr. Osterman to determine if orthodontic treatment will be required and the best time for the patient to be treated. Many of the dentists in our community have been trained to identify orthodontic problems early, and may refer you to our office earlier than age 7.
Why are children being evaluated at such an early age?
Early diagnosis and treatment is utilized to prevent certain developing problems from becoming significantly worse and consequently more difficult and invasive to correct if left until the teen years to be treated.
If early treatment is indicated, Dr. Osterman can guide the growth of the jaw to correct bite problems and create space for the incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment can regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce the likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, improve bite problems and correct thumb sucking. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment, after all the permanent teeth erupt.
Does early treatment benefit all children?
Early treatment does not necessarily benefit all children. Certain types of orthodontic problems can be fully corrected in the teen years when all the permanent teeth have erupted without the time and expense of early treatment. Some skeletal orthodontic problems should not be addressed until growth is more advanced or completed. Dr. Osterman develop a plan for treatment based on each individual child’s needs. If the doctors decide a patient is not ready for treatment, they are placed in our orthodontic observation program.
What is the Orthodontic Observation Program?
The orthodontic observation program is for patients who are not ready for treatment but still have dental and skeletal development that should be monitored. This program enables us to evaluate the pattern of the baby teeth coming out and the permanent teeth coming in. Sometimes, problems with the eruption patterns of permanent teeth may be eliminated with early removal of baby teeth and reduce the treatment time required for braces. We normally see the patients for observation visits every 6-12 months to observe their progress as they grow. This program helps Dr. Osterman to determine the optimum time to begin treatment and achieve the best possible result for your child.
In addition to a beautiful new smile, what are some other benefits of orthodontic treatment?
Braces can improve function of the bite and teeth, improve ability to clean the teeth, prevent wear on the teeth, and increase the longevity of natural teeth over a lifetime.
If a child has treatment early, will this prevent the need for braces as an adolescent?
Early treatment can begin the correction of significant problems, prevent more severe problems from developing, and simplify future treatment. Because all of the permanent teeth have not yet erupted when early treatment is performed, their final alignment may not have been corrected. A shortened comprehensive phase of treatment (Phase II – full braces) in the teen years, after all the permanent teeth have erupted, is necessary for almost all of the patients to complete their correction. However, there are some patients for whom further orthodontic treatment may not be indicated.
Do we still need to see our family dentist during orthodontic treatment?
Patients with braces and other orthodontic appliances require more effort to keep their teeth and gums clean. Since we want to insure the highest level of dental health for you, we feel it is very important that you continue to see your family dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings before, during and after orthodontic treatment. Our recommended check up and cleaning intervals with your dentist can vary from 2 – 6 months depending on your needs.