The Ideal Age for Orthodontics

The Ideal Age for Orthodontics from FitSmiles Orthodontics in Tustin, CAOrthodontics correct dental and oral health issues in children and adults alike. Dentists agree that it is never too late to correct a bad bite. That said, they encourage orthodontic treatment at an earlier age. So, what is this ideal age for orthodontics? Is it a number or an age range?

Orthodontics: Growth and development of the teeth and their structures

The skeletal structure is never more pliable than during childhood. During these early years, the support structures that anchor the teeth are easier to reshape, train, and align.

As a person gets into their teenage years, there remains flexibility in the jaw and the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that hold the teeth in place. This remains true up until around the age of 25. After this age, the teeth and their supporting structures become more set in their ways. It takes more time to reposition the teeth or reshape the jaws at this point.

Starting orthodontic treatment when skeletal development is complete requires patience on the part of the patient. Still, it is worth the effort, if only for the oral health benefits of a good bite. Here is what to expect when starting orthodontic treatment at different ages.

1. Age 7 years and below

Parents should keep an eye on their children’s dental health as soon as the first teeth come in. It helps when a dentist monitors the child’s erupting teeth with periodic checkups. The dentist will guide parents on how to maintain the oral health of their children. These periodic checkups also allow a dentist to spot orthodontic issues early on.

At this early stage, orthodontic treatment is limited to monitoring and a few conservative measures like:

  • Extracting a baby tooth that obstructs an erupting adult tooth
  • Extracting excess teeth in the case of severe crowding
  • In rare cases, a dentist may recommend interceptive orthodontic treatment, where a young child wears an appliance (not braces)

Interceptive treatment only becomes an option for young patients with severe orthodontic problems. This approach aims to get a headstart on an oral health issue that is already affecting the child’s quality of life.

2. Ages 9 to 14

Most children have most of their permanent teeth at this point. This is the ideal age to start orthodontic treatment. The structures in and around the patient’s teeth are still growing and changing, which makes them easier to shape. Better still, aligning the teeth and jaws at this young age can ensure a good outcome in the long term.

At this stage, orthodontic appliances will guide the growth of the patient’s jaws and the teeth that they anchor. This ensures a permanent repositioning of the teeth, without the need for a retainer all through adulthood.

3. Ages 14 to 25

Some young patients start orthodontic treatment at a slightly older age. The good news is that the skeletal and muscular structures of the mouth continue to develop into young adulthood. Orthodontic treatment will still effect change at a steady clip.

However, the newly straightened teeth of an older teen will take longer to stay in their new alignment. This translates to the use of a retainer for an extended period. To put it another way, the later that a patient starts orthodontic treatment, the longer it takes to achieve the final result.

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Adults and orthodontics

It is never too late to pursue a desired smile. Thankfully, discreet orthodontic appliances allow adults to straighten their teeth without going through life with visible metal on their teeth. All things being equal, it takes more time to correct orthodontic problems in a fully formed adult. The person will have to wear both braces and retainers for more time than a younger patient with the same sets of problems.

Call us if you need orthodontics to improve your smile. Our dentist will walk you through the different options available to you.

Request an appointment or call FitSmiles Orthodontics at 714-782-0217 for an appointment in our Tustin office.

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