photo courtesy of AAO

When is the best time to begin orthodontics?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child have an initial orthodontic evaluation at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this age, orthodontic treatment may not be indicated, but close monitoring and examination can tell us the optimal time to begin treatment. If treatment is necessary at an early age, then starting treatment at this time would allow for the best result and the least amount of time and expense.

What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?

With early evaluation Dr. Newman is able to detect problems in a timely manner which allows for greater opportunity for more effective treatment. By appropriately planning the right time to begin treatment, Dr. Newman can guide growth and development, thus preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, Dr. Newman will continue to carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment at a more ideal and appropriate time.

Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?

At this age, the first adult molars and incisors are in the process of erupting or have completed their eruption, establishing the back bite. This is the time when Dr. Newman can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible crossbite, overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile. While orthodontic treatment most often begins between the ages of 9 and 14, some children’s orthodontic problems can benefit from earlier treatment. If it appears that your child will need treatment at some point, Dr. Newman will advise you about the best time to begin

What are the advantages of interceptive treatment?


photo courtesy of AAO

Early treatment can often prevent a problem from developing (preventive treatment), intercept a developing problem (interceptive treatment), or guide the growth of the jaw bones that support the teeth (growth modification). Without this first phase of treatment, Dr. Newman may determine that your child’s problem, if left alone, will create an unhealthy environment for the growth and development of your child’s teeth, gums, jaws and face. The treatment will be timed to predictable stages of dental development to provide the greatest potential for improvement and correction of your child’s malocclusion (bad bite). Orthodontic treatment and a child’s growth can complement each other. By timing orthodontic treatment to predictable stages of dental development, Dr. Newman may be able to take advantage of your child’s growth and development. Some problems that can be treated quite well in a growing child may require corrective surgery if treated after growth has occurred.

Some of the benefits and results of interceptive treatment are:

  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Creating facial symmetry by influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to teeth that “stick out”
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time with the second phase of braces
  • Attempting to minimize the need for future jaw surgery
  • Improve appearance and self esteem
  • Timing treatment at an age when some children are more cooperative
  • Correct harmful oral habits
  • Improve the way lips meet
  • Coordinate the width of the upper and lower jaws

What are some signs that the bite is not right?

It’s not always easy to tell when your child has an orthodontic problem. Even teeth that look straight may be hiding an unhealthy bite. Here are some clues that may indicate the need for orthodontic attention:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (typically children begin losing teeth around age five, and will have all their permanent teeth around age 13)
  • Difficulty in chewing or biting
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Thumb-sucking continues after age 5
  • Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth at age 7 or 8
  • Jaws that are too far forward or back
  • Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
  • Protruding teeth where the top teeth extend far away from the bottom teeth
  • Upper and lower teeth that don’t meet, or meet in an abnormal way
  • An unbalanced facial appearance
  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Speech impediments
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes their mouth (crossbites)

Take a further look at what some of these problems may look like in the Common Problems section of our website. If you suspect that your child has any of the problems listed above, schedule your complimentary consultation with Dr. Newman; you do not need a referral from your dentist.