One of the questions frequently asked of Certified Orthodontists is – at what age should orthodontic treatment begin? Not that many years ago, a commonly held belief was that orthodontic care was a benefit that only younger children and teens could enjoy.
While the formative years of being a child or youth are still generally considered an ideal time for undergoing orthodontic treatment for a number of reasons, it has become quite clear that adults can enjoy most –and in many cases all– of the same benefits.
Because children have the greatest potential for growth and change, the correction of certain orthodontic issues is usually simpler and less invasive in the early years than correcting the same issues later.
When identified in childhood, many orthodontic problems can be resolved with quick, non-invasive approaches (known as interceptive care) that can usually avoid the need for longer, more complex, and more invasive orthodontic corrections later in life.
To know whether your child can benefit from interceptive care, a Certified Orthodontist should be consulted for an opinion by the age of 7. Even in the absence of an obvious concern, signs or symptoms, developing problems can be subtle and are best diagnosed by a dental specialist with advanced education and experience in orthodontics – an Orthodontist.
In many cases, your Orthodontist will determine that it is safe to simply monitor your child until further growth and development take place. Often the decision as to whether orthodontic treatment is needed can be differed until later childhood or even early teenage years.
Late childhood to early teenage years is the most common age for undergoing comprehensive orthodontic treatment. Comprehensive means that all the teeth are placed in their final, optimal position. As long as the retention protocol is followed by the patient, the treatment is expected to yield a final, definitive result.
What makes teenage years ideal for most comprehensive orthodontic treatments is that teens have both a fully developed arrangement and condition of teeth as well as remaining growth potential. This being said, it is still important for children to undergo an orthodontic screening by the age of 7 to ensure that orthodontic and orthopedic problems that are better corrected during childhood are not overlooked. An earlier orthodontic screening can prevent the need for lengthier, more complex and more aggressive treatment in the teenage years.
One of the most common misconceptions regarding orthodontics is that adults have “missed out” on their opportunity to benefit from care. This is simply not true anymore. In fact, a significant proportion of patients now benefiting from orthodontic care in the 21st century are adults in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
Indeed, most adults can safely and comfortably reap the esthetic and functional improvements that result from a well-planned and implemented treatment from a Certified Orthodontist. With advances in technology and materials, there is now an array of esthetically-pleasing options available, ranging from ceramic braces to clear aligners.
These days, people of all ages are enjoying the many benefits receiving treatment and care from a Certified Orthodontist. While certain types of problems are more easily corrected during childhood and adolescence, excellent options for orthodontic care exist at almost any age.
Simply speak to an Orthodontist to see which options are available for you. Need to find a Certified Orthodontist for yourself, your child or teenager? Visit our handy directory of Orthodontists in Ottawa-Gatineau today.
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