The answer will vary depending upon many factors.
Your child will usually fall into one of 4 groups:
• Very early – no adult teeth have erupted as yet
• Early or Interceptive – adult teeth starting to erupt
• Adolescent (teenage) – most or all of the adult teeth have erupted, jaws still growing
• Late adolescent / Adult – treatment once the jaws have stopped growing.
The treatment that is needed is assessed from your initial orthodontic consultation.
It is rare to initiate orthodontic treatment in the very early group unless there is a notable discrepancy. If treatment is an option, other aspects also need to be considered: Will the child cope with treatment? Will they be responsible enough to look after the orthodontic appliance (most cases need a removable plate that can be lost if not worn)?
In the second group, early intervention may be needed as the adult teeth begin to erupt. In these cases we can start to predict if there will be future problems that need to be treated early to prevent them from becoming worse. Such conditions are narrow jaw widths, mis-matched jaw lengths, crowded teeth damaging other teeth, teeth affecting speech or chewing, abnormal wearing / grinding of the teeth, absent teeth, too many teeth, teeth developing out of position or erupting at the wrong time. There are many other problems that can be diagnosed early. Not all of these problems need to be treated early but some of them, if treated early, become less complex later and will be shorter and cheaper to treat later.
In the third group, it is better to wait for all the adult teeth to erupt and treat in the early teenage years. In these cases this allows us to see where all the teeth are growing. The jaws are now nearly fully formed and we can fully assess tooth size and color and whether the teeth are jaw sizes are compatible. In about 10% of patients. if there is abnormal lower jaw growth, orthodontic treatment should be delayed until the lower jaw has stopped growing, so that a proper assessment of the teeth and bite can be made once jaw growth has stabilised.
Because there are many variables, it is often better to have a child assessed early and be advised that everything is OK, rather than wait, only to find out that interceptive treatment may have been more successful if started earlier. Our on-going care service will allow us, after the initial consultation, to regularly review your child for FREE until treatment is ready to commence. This allows us to monitor the childs dental and jaw growth, build a rapport with the child and offer other advice along the way.
Most children with “standard” orthodontic problems are best treated just as the last of the baby teeth are being lost and when the main pubertal growth spurt is commencing. Unfortunately both these events may not coincide and this is when we will tailor the treatment plan to suit your child. There is NO one treatment that fixes every problem, nor is there the one “miracle” brace or orthodontic appliance that treats everyone. We are all different, grow differently, use our teeth differently, have different genetic makeups and so orthodontic treatment needs to be assessed and prescribed on an individual basis.