Although many people can benefit from orthodontic treatment, historically there have been many misconceptions and differing opinions as to the optimal time to visit an orthodontist. Below you will find resources to help provide information on the dental conditions we treat, some of the benefits of treatment, and when the best time is to start.
Common Orthodontic Issues
If you feel something is just “not quite right” with your or your child’s smile but don’t know the correct words to describe it, check out our common issues below. Here you will find information on the most common orthodontic problems that we see on a daily basis, plus learn more about the negative effects they can have on one’s smile, bite, and confidence.
- Orthodontics for Children (Ages 7-10)
- Treatment for Adolescents (Ages 11-17)
- Orthodontic Treatment for Adults (Ages 18+)
Orthodontics for Children (Ages 7-10)
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children should have an orthodontic screening by the age of 7. At this age, jaw growth and the positions of erupting teeth can be evaluated. While comprehensive orthodontic treatment usually begins during adolescence with all or most of the adult teeth present, some problems need to be corrected at an earlier age. We call this early orthodontic or a “Phase 1” treatment. It is NOT recommended to wait until all the adult teeth are present before seeing an orthodontist.
If any of the items in the list below apply to your child or if his/her teeth look similar to any of the photos listed on our Common Orthodontic Issues webpage, please contact our office to schedule your free consultation:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty in chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Jaws that shift or make sounds
- Speech difficulties
- Biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
- Facial imbalance
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
- Guide jaw growth
- Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
- Correct harmful oral habits
- Guide permanent teeth into a more favourable position
- Create a more pleasing arrangement of teeth, lips, and face
More information on how we treat these conditions can be found here. Most of the time, however, early orthodontic treatment is not required and we recommend monitoring for growth and development. This way, we can identify the right time to initiate comprehensive orthodontic treatment since every child is different. If your child does not require early treatment, it would be our pleasure to monitor your child’s development, free of charge, in our 7&UP Club.
Treatment for Adolescents (Ages 11-17)
Comprehensive orthodontic treatment usually begins once all the adult teeth have come into the mouth or are just about there. This is the ideal time to straighten teeth and fix bites since jaw growth can be enhanced or controlled. Crooked teeth should be aligned to allow easier access for cleaning. A “bad bite” can also be harmful since it can lead to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, and excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue.
Historically, braces were used on almost every teenager orthodontic case and if there was an overbite, the headgear appliance was utilized or extractions were recommended. Nowadays we have many more options. Most of our teenagers prefer to have fewer lifestyle restrictions and choose Invisalign. Others who prefer the peace of mind of having something always affixed to the teeth and working choose braces. With advancements in technology we also now offer Lightforce custom braces.
Orthodontic Treatment for Adults (Ages 18+)
There is no age limit for orthodontic treatment as most people can benefit from ideal tooth alignment! In fact, 30-40% of the orthodontic patients in our office are over the age of 18. We have treated patients in their 70’s and 80’s who wanted to improve the alignment of their teeth.
Depending on your goals, there is a wide range of options available to you. Did you have treatment when you were a teenager and stopped wearing your retainer? Unfortunately, this is an extremely common situation we encounter. Sometimes we can do a relatively quick fix and just straighten the front teeth. We call this limited treatment.
For others, did you wish you had treatment when you were younger but never had the opportunity? Well, there is no time like the present. We can drastically transform your smile using Invisalign® or clear braces! Aside from straightening your teeth we can work on your bite and improve how everything functions overall. As well, sometimes your dentist wants us to align your teeth in preparation for cosmetic work like veneers, crowns, or implants.
If your facial profile is a concern and you’re looking for a drastic change in the shape of your face, you may want to consider jaw surgery. Dr. Walt had jaw surgery himself and would be more than happy to discuss the process with you at your consultation. Bottom line — it’s never too late to get the smile you’ve always wanted.
My Smile, My Choice, My Orthodontist
Learn why an orthodontist is the smart choice for your future smile.