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Early Orthodontics

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When is the best time to begin orthodontics?

Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Beginning treatment at this time 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 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 begin treatment.

What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?

Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent 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.

Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?

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.

What is interceptive orthodontics and what are the advantages of interceptive treatment?

Orthodontic treatment in young children is known as interceptive orthodontics, in which intervention can begin before the child starts first grade. At this age, tooth development and jaw growth have not been completed, so certain conditions, like crowding, are easier to address.

Before permantnent teeth have come in, it may be possible to help teeth to erupt(emerge through the gums) into the proper position. It's common, for example, for the dental arch to be too small to accommodate all of the teeth. A few decades ago, the solution for crowding teeth was to extract some of the adult teeth, then use fixed braces to position the teeth properly. Early intervention takes advantage of the fact that the child's jaw is still growing. For example, a device called a palatal expander may be used to expand the child's upper arch. Once the arch is the proper size, there's a better chance that the adults teeth will emerge naturally where they should have. If all the teeth have erupted and there is still a great deal of crowding, some permanant teeth may have to be extracted to align the teeth properly.

Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:

Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth

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Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth

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Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth

Preserving space for unerupted teeth

Reducing the need for tooth removal

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Reducing treatment time with braces

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Are you a candidate for orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile.

Why should malocclusions be treated?

According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems:

Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease.

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Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping.

Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear.

Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.

It is important to note that children who receive interceptive orthodontics may still need braces or other orthodontic appliances later. However, this early treatment may shorten and simplify future treatment and may eliminate the need for more drastic measurements such as the need to extract permanent teeth in the future.


321 Bulwer Street
Central CBD


E-mail: orthodontist@sainet.co.za
Telephone: 033 394 7635

Appointments can be made daily from Monday to Friday 08:00 to 16:30. You may also leave a message at any time for us to contact you on our answering service.

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