Q. At what age should a child have an orthodontic examination?
A. Age 7, unless you suspect a problem at an earlier age, because most facial asymmetries are likely to be apparent by that time. A timely screening will lead to extraordinary treatment benefits. For others, the principle benefit is peace of mind.
Q. Why are children being evaluated at such an early age?
A. Early diagnosis and treatment can guide erupting teeth into a more favorable position, preserve space for the permanent teeth and reduce the likelihood of fracturing protruded front teeth. Also, early treatment may shorten treatment time, make treatment easier and in some cases less expensive. It may even provide advantages that are not available later.
Q. Is orthodontic care expensive?
A. Orthodontic therapy may eliminate the need for other medical and dental treatment. The physical and psychological benefits usually last a lifetime, which makes orthodontics one of the best investments in healthcare and quality of life.
Q. What is the psychological impact of early treatment?
A. Appearance has been related to popularity, social behaviors, self-expectation, personality style, and self-esteem. Orthodontic therapy may lessen the likelihood that a child will be picked on by other children. Treatment may reduce appearance-consciousness and the emotional scarring that can occur during critical developmental years. Also, as adolescents enter the sensitive teenage years, they become far less receptive to orthodontic therapy.
Q. In addition to esthetic improvements, what are some other benefits of orthodontic therapy?
A. Additional benefits may include better function, improved cleanability, more favorable wear patterns and greater longevity of natural teeth.
Q. Why is the growth spurt at puberty so important in orthodontics?
A. This is the time when much of the development of the face occurs. Treatment during this period allows the orthodontist to favorably influence the facial profile in a growing child. Once growth of the facial bones is complete, correction of skeletal discrepancies usually requires surgery.
Q. If I’m not sure about the need for orthodontics, how should the patient he managed?
A. If in doubt, refer. If you notice a problem and refer to a specialist, your legal and professional responsibilities are fulfilled. Also, an early referral can avoid more complex problems that may worsen with time.
Q. What’s the problem with waiting until the permanent teeth erupt to refer?
A. The problem may be one of opportunities missed with respect to growth and development. While patients can be treated at any age, those with available growth may enjoy a substantial advantage. Timely treatment may prevent the need for jaw surgery, extraction of permanent teeth, or fracture of protruded incisors. Early treatment may also help the psychological development. Patients also benefit from guidance of tooth eruption.
Q. At what age is a patient too old for orthodontics?
A. Patients who have teeth and healthy supporting structures are never too old for orthodontic therapy. Age is not a factor.
Q. How can I tactfully approach an adult patient who could benefit from orthodontics?
A. Ask the question: “Are you happy with the appearance of your teeth?” The ill be your guide to further answer will be your guide to further development of the conversation.
Q. Why are adults seeking orthodontics in increasing numbers?
A. Many adults are receiving orthodontic care that was not available to them as children. They realize that improving the health of their mouths and the attractiveness of their smiles and facial appearances can result in changes for the better in their personal, social, and professional lives. Technical advances have also had an impact on adult therapy.
Q. What are some of those advances?
A. Advanced technology has produced small tooth-colored brackets that are barely noticeable. Specially alloyed wires are more comfortable, can speed up treatment, and may decrease the number of necessary appointments. New retainers can be placed where they do not show. Also, advanced surgical techniques now allow treatment of many skeletal problems after growth is completed.