What’s the Best Age to Start Orthodontics?
One of the most common questions we receive is, “What is the best age to go to the orthodontist to straighten your teeth?” And our simple answer to this question: You should seek orthodontic treatment to improve your smile as soon as you have a question about the alignment of your teeth or your bite.
Sometimes, it is extremely obvious, such as when you have trouble biting, speaking or chewing or if your teeth are protruding, crowded or too spaced out. Other times, the misalignment of your teeth may be subtle, including clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth or mouth breathing.
Do you need a dentist or an orthodontist to straighten your teeth?
If you find that you or your child are experiencing any of these issues, then we recommend following these guidelines:
Orthodontics for Kids
The American Academy of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that children should have an orthodontic evaluation by the age of seven, before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Any treatment needed at this age is referred to as Phase I treatment. We recommend this age for two reasons:
There is a wide disparity in tooth development near the age of seven. This requires an expert to know if your child actually needs orthodontic treatment or if it’s normal developmental growth. An orthodontist can also tell if there is enough room in the mouth to accommodate permanent teeth.
Most conditions are easier to treat the earlier they are caught, when natural growth processes are at their peak. If some of these conditions are left untreated at a young age they may require surgery or permanent tooth extractions later in life.
However, there are some behaviors that may require a child to see the orthodontic earlier than the age of seven. These include early or late loss of baby teeth, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing. If you notice these behaviors in your child, we strongly recommend making an appointment with an orthodontist.
Phase II of orthodontic treatment is for teens who received Phase I already or didn’t require Phase 1 treatment and have most of their permanent teeth. The goal of this phase is to ideally position all of the permanent teeth in order to maximize appearance and function.
Also, Invisalign Teen offers an alternative to braces for teens — nearly invisible aligners — and we’re the number one local Invisalign provider.
Orthodontics for Adults
According to the AAO, one in five orthodontic patients is an adult. The growing number of options for braces, including Invisalign, makes orthodontic treatment for adults more popular. Properly aligned teeth are important at any age, not just for appearance but also for health. Well-aligned teeth are easier to clean and less susceptible to abnormal wear on the enamel. Furthermore, a better bite allows you to eat better and speak more clearly, maintaining an overall healthier smile.
If you’re still unsure of when to schedule your first orthodontic treatment, reach out to us. We’d love to be your Invisalign specialist. But at the very least, we’d be happy to share what we believe to be the best solution to get a straighter smile based on your individual situation.