Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal
time period to begin treatment. Early age treatment ensures the greatest
result and the least amount of time and expense. The American Association
of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should
occur at the first sign of child orthodontic problems or no later than
age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary,
but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to
Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater
opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent orthodontic intervention
guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When
orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully
monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.
Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:
- Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
- Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
- Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
- Preserving space for unerupted teeth
- Reducing the need for tooth removal
- Reducing treatment time with braces
Common Orthodontic Problems
Malocclusion literally means "bad bite" and is the number one reason people
see an orthodontist. There are many different forms of "bad bites" which
can lead to a variety of complications.
There are many causes of malocclusion. Genetics are one of the leading
factors. A child may be born with a disproportionate jaw. There are also
environmental factors, such as thumb sucking beyond the age of 4.
In an underbite, the lower jaw is longer than the upper which causes the
lower teeth to protrude in front of the upper teeth.
It is best to diagnose the problem early.
An overbite, or deep bite is when the front teeth cover the lower teeth too much.
An excessive overbite leads to wearing down of the teeth and even may cause
the bottom teeth to bite into the roof of the mouth.
The malocclusion known as spacing is too much room between the teeth. Spacing
can occur if teeth are missing, small, or if the dental arch is wide.
The most common complaint from patients with excessive spacing is cosmetic.
A crossbite is when the back upper teeth fit into the inside of the lower
A crossbite causes tooth stratification and misaligned jaw growth.
When the upper front teeth stick out too far forward, or the lower teeth
don’t extend enough this is called protrusion. Because of the abnormal
contact between the upper and lower front teeth it could cause injury
to the lower teeth. It also causes poor bites and may even be from uneven
jaw growth. This problem can be caused by thumb and finger sucking.
Mid Lines Off
In a perfectly aligned face there should be a straight line from the bridge
of the nose to the bottom teeth...all should be lined up. If they are
not and the bottom teeth are actually misaligned from the top teeth, then
your midlines are off.
When your midlines are off your teeth could be drifted or your lower jaw
could be shifted, which would result in an improper bite.
The common result of thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, an open bite, is
when you can actually stick your tongue between your teeth while biting down.
An open bite is a cosmetic problem, but it can also cause chewing problems.