Chronological age is not a factor when deciding whether a patient is a candidate for orthodontic treatment; there is not one ideal age for treatment to begin. Healthy teeth can be moved at any age. Regardless of age, patients can look forward to teeth that not only look better, but work better, too.
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children get a check-up with an orthodontist at the first recognition of the existence of an orthodontic problem, but no later than age 7. Few patients will need to begin treatment that young, but there are some who will benefit from early intervention. For these patients, treatment is likely to consist of guiding the growth of the jaws so that the permanent teeth are in good positions as they come in. See our blog post, Is There a Benefit to Early Treatment?, or the AAO’s brochure, Your Child’s First Orthodontic Check-up, for more information.
A check-up while some baby teeth are still present, and while the face and jaws are growing, may reveal that immediate treatment is not necessary, but that the child could benefit from treatment in the future. In these cases, the patient visits the orthodontist periodically to monitor growth and development. This “watchful waiting” gives the orthodontist the opportunity to advise parents when the best time is for that child to begin treatment. Often the orthodontist is able to take advantage of predictable periods of a patient’s growth and intervene so that orthodontic treatment can have the best results possible. There are some things that cannot be accomplished once the face and jaws are no longer growing.
Still, orthodontic treatment can be highly successful in adults. The physiological process of moving teeth is the same in adults as it is in children. Adult orthodontic treatment may take a little longer than children’s treatment due to denser bone tissue in adults. A new smile can be especially profound for adults who have spent years hiding their teeth. For more information, check out our blog, Am I Too Old for Orthodontic Treatment?.
Overall, the time required for orthodontic treatment is shorter than it was in the past. Members of the American Association of Orthodontists report that the average length of orthodontic treatment is 22 months.
Do be sure to seek out an orthodontist for orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists are dentistry’s specialists in moving teeth and aligning jaws to achieve a healthy bite. Orthodontists get to be specialists by graduating from dental school, and then successfully completing an additional 2-3 years of education in orthodontics at an accredited orthodontic residency program. Only people who have attained this level of formal education may call themselves “orthodontists,” and only orthodontists are accepted for membership in the AAO. By choosing an AAO member, the public is assured that the doctor truly is an orthodontist.
Orthodontists have the training, experience and treatment options to make sure you get your best smile.