Most parents wonder when is the best time to have their child evaluated for braces. One common misconception regarding orthodontic treatment for children is to wait until all of the permanent teeth (with the exception of the wisdom teeth) are present. This is not the case. An orthodontist is able to identify most problems involving the alignment of your child’s teeth and the growth of their jaws by the time they are in the first or second grade. That is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have a check up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7.
It is important to keep in mind that aligning the teeth and the jaws does not happen overnight. Whether you are wearing conventional braces, clear aligners, or any other type of appliance, orthodontic movement is a gradual process. Orthodontic tooth movement is based on the use of light and continuous forces to correct your bite in an incremental, predictable, and healthy manner.
The total duration of orthodontic care, not including wearing retainers to maintain the result, depends on a number of factors. Treatment time can be influenced by such factors as growth as well as your compliance with care. On average comprehensive orthodontic care to correct a malocclusion can take anywhere between 18-36 months. Orthodontic treatment for more limited problems with tooth alignment typically ranges from 6 to 18 months.
Because orthodontic movement takes time, most appointments after the initial placement of appliances are scheduled approximately four to eight weeks apart. This interval gives your teeth time to move at both a steady and healthy pace. However, there may be situations where more frequent visits to evaluate the status of your case, tooth movement, or to have a special adjustment are required.
Empowered by the knowledge that one is never too old to have orthodontic care, greater numbers of adults are actively seeking treatment for either crooked teeth or jaw problems, as well as to address teeth that have shifted over time due to extractions, habits, or abnormal bite patterns.
Teeth can be moved at any age. Orthodontic treatment as an adult can completely transform an imperfect and poorly aligned smile into one that is attractive and functions well. However, initiating orthodontic care and achieving a successful outcome relies on the presence of healthy teeth and supporting bone. For these reasons it is important for adult patients to address any outstanding dental problems before their appliances are placed and to be diligent in maintaining their oral health throughout care.