Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, your dentist Columbia SC Dr. Gregory Wych advises that there is an optimum age at which to begin treatment to ensure the best result.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but your dentist Columbia SC suggests that vigilant examination can anticipate the best time to begin treatment.
Why age 7?
By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.
Does my child need treatment?
Visibly crooked teeth are not the only reason to take your child into the orthodontist. There are some subtle things to look for as well, which may indicate the onset of more serious orthodontic issues.
Many orthodontic issues are much easier to address if treated and corrected during a child's development. He/she may if you recognize any of these warning signs:
- Difficulty when chewing or biting
- Chronic mouth-breathing
- Sucking the thumb, the fingers, or any other oral sucking habits that continue after the age of six
- Overbite - when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth by more than 5mm
- Top front teeth that cover more than 25% of the bottom teeth while biting
- Underbite - when the top front teeth go behind the bottom row of teeth when biting
- Crowded, crooked, overlapped, misshapen, misplaced teeth or extra teeth of any size
- Crossbite - when one or more teeth tilt toward the cheek or toward the tongue causing excessive stress on the jawbone
- The center of the top and bottom teeth don't line up
- Uneven teeth-wearing
- Baby teeth coming out too early for the child's age
- Pain in jaws
- Clicking in the jaw joints
- The jaw shifts off-center while chewing or biting
- A jaw that protrudes, or recedes, too much
- Difficulty speaking or enunciating clearly
- Chronic biting of the inner cheek or roof of the mouth
- Asymmetrical facial structure
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile—it creates a healthier you. If you have any questions regarding the material above, or orthodontic treatment in general, please call your Columbia SC dentist office today!