Early Treatment

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 are the advantages of interceptive treatment?

Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:

  • Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Possibly reducing treatment time with braces later

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.
  • 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.

Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile – it creates a healthier you.

On-Time Treatment Focus at Kalamazoo Orthodontics

Fewer Early 2-Phase Treatments

In an evaluation of 295 consecutively-treated patients from our practice using the Butterfly System (includes easy and hard cases; patients both compliant and not), we found that our average treatment time was 24.8 months.  This compares favorably with samples from Temple University (31 months), University of Iowa (23.5 months), and confirms a previous study we did in 2002 of 323 patients (25.2 months).  Seventy-five percent of our patients finish right on time as predicted and those that did not were typically completed within just 7 months.  As might be expected, most of those patients had complicated their care by non-compliance, broken appliances, and missed appointments.  New advances in bracket design, manufacturing, computer-custom designed braces, miniscrew anchorage, combined with methods to increase tooth movement speed, will continue to reduce treatment times, improve effectiveness, and provide for the best quality results possible.

In the 1980s, orthodontic treatments beginning at age 7-10 (requiring both an early and a later phase of appliance wear) gained popularity.  Interestingly enough, subsequent research demonstrated no distinct advantage for most patients.  Often, 2-phase treatments often take longer to complete.  Drs. Anthony Gianelly (Boston University) and Carla Evans (Univ. of Illinois) have suggested that only 9-10% of patients might benefit from this type of 2-phase system.    In fact, 93% of our patients are successfully treated in just one-phase of comprehensive treatment (often beginning treatment at age 11-12; an optimal time for growth changes to be affected). 

continued clinical research helps us improve the quality of our care