Orthodontics is a versatile and effective way to help correct dental issues. From something as simple as a mild overbite to overcrowding or gapping, orthodontics work can help to minimise dental problems. It’s an important option to consider, whether for you or for your child because untreated orthodontic issues can lead to a wide range of uncomfortable problems, from difficulty speaking and chewing to bone loss and pain. If you’re considering orthodontic treatment, when is the best time to start?
What age should a child start their treatment?
Although orthodontic treatments, such as braces, are often associated with teenagers, they can actually start at a much younger age. Children as young as seven years old can benefit from orthodontics and with the right treatment will find it easy to manage with minimum disruption to life and play. One of the major benefits of opting for earlier orthodontics treatment is that the jawbone is much more malleable in younger people and so orthodontic treatment is easier and less painful than at an older age when it has stopped growing. All that’s necessary is that the child has lost most of his or her baby teeth and the majority of adult teeth have grown in.
Dentists will look out for a number of issues in children to assess whether early orthodontic treatment is necessary, which is why it’s so essential to ensure that all children have regular check-ups. For example, a dentist will look for signs of:
- Protruding teeth
- Teeth that don’t meet when biting together
- A lisp, slurring of words or mispronunciation
- Overcrowded teeth
- Baby teeth that are lost too late (most should be lost between 5 and 14 years old)
- Excessive thumb sucking, especially after the child reaches the age of four
Children always benefit from starting orthodontics treatment as early as possible – this is the best way to ensure that it is effective and short.
When should adults consider orthodontic treatment?
Most people who require orthodontic treatment tend to realise that’s the case before a dentist highlights the issue. Anyone can have orthodontic treatment and it can be used to correct a wide range of issues that may be impacting on your quality of life. If you feel that you have problems with your teeth, or they are making it difficult to eat, chew or drink, the first step is to visit a dentist to ensure that the issue is one that can be corrected with orthodontics rather than requiring a different type of treatment.
Orthodontic treatment is ideal for correcting these key dental problems:
- Teeth that protrude or are misplaced
- Overcrowding in your mouth
- An overbite or an underbite – i.e. your top and bottom teeth don’t meet when you bite down
- Aesthetic issues with your smile, such as gapping or crooked teeth
If you’re experiencing pain, difficulty chewing or you notice that you’ve started to grind your teeth, you’re clenching your teeth often or you realise that you’re breathing only through your mouth, these can all be a sign that orthodontic treatment could be used to improve your quality of life. If you regularly find yourself covering your mouth with your hand, or you’re reluctant to smile because of your teeth then this also means it might be time to seek out orthodontic help.
There are many advantages to orthodontic treatment, from making it easier to clean teeth to giving you more social confidence, and a range of treatment options are available. Whether you’re experiencing issues or your child is, the earlier you visit an orthodontist, the sooner these problems can be dealt with.