Ladera Ranch, CA – The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommend that all children should visit an orthodontist for the first time at the age of seven. At this time, children typically have a mix of permanent and baby teeth and an orthodontist can start to see how the bite is shaping up. Treatment, if necessary at this age, can have the most impact since it’s coupled with growth. However, if you missed out on orthodontic treatment as a child, it’s never too late to start.
“At Ladera Orthodontics we treat patients of all ages,” says board certified orthodontist Dr. Robert Gire. “While you may commonly think of adolescents in braces, today more patients are turning to treatment as adults. In fact, nearly one in five orthodontic patients in the United States is an adult.”
So, how does treatment differ depending on the age?
The reason it is recommended children see an orthodontist at the age of seven is that their jaws are still growing. If there are discrepancies in the way the upper and lower jaws are growing, the orthodontist can help modify growth, while aligning the teeth properly.
For females, jaw growth typically stops earlier than males. After the jaw stops growing, orthodontic treatment can still happen, but it may be more involved. “That’s why we always try to do a thorough evaluation and initiate growth during those important years,” says Dr. Reza Salmassian.
In children, the orthodontist can use appliances that will facilitate proper jaw growth while using braces to allow the teeth adequate room to erupt. There are many options to achieve tooth movement, such as braces, clear aligner therapy (CAT) such as Invisalign, or other options to create a straighter smile. Together, a properly aligned jaw and straight teeth create a harmonious smile.
Older patients can still get the smile of their dreams, but depending on the severity of the malocclusion, treatment could be more involved. For serious jaw discrepancies that have resulted in overbites, underbites or openbites, surgery may be required to correct the bite.
Adults also have other issues that children may not, such as gum disease, which can lead to loss of gum and bone tissue. Biomechanical limitations can make moving teeth slightly more involved in some older patients.
Adults may be more likely to have missing teeth and that can sometimes make it harder to move teeth to those locations. When we lose teeth, we lose bone as well so Dr. Gire and Dr. Salmassian will work with a periodontist to ensure there is enough adequate bone remaining in those areas. Some patients may require having bone restored to the area before teeth can be moved.
Treatment time will often be faster in younger patients because they’re still growing and bones and tissues tend to be more responsive to treatment.
Ladera Orthodontics recognizes that adult and adolescent patients have different needs and therefore require different care. Both of the practice’s board certified orthodontists are highly skilled in creating personalized treatment plans to meet the exact needs of each patient. If you are interested in learning more about how orthodontic treatment may be able to help you, no matter your age, call Ladera Orthodontics at 949-272-8782 to schedule a complimentary consultation.