There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal this week about early braces. The article discusses the increase of early braces across the US since 1990. I think this article highlights some of parents’ confusion. There are a lot of variance from orthodontist to orthodontist: Some do a lot of early treatment, and we tend to not do as much.
At Fry Orthodontic Specialists, our main goal is to make sure that a patient’s orthodontic experience is as short as it can possibly be: This decreases the money that patients/parents have to pay, it reduces missed school days, and it prevents the increased risk of other dental problems (cavities, etc) that can be seen with braces. In general, this means that a patient should get braces once. After all of the baby teeth are gone and we know all of the “problems” that need to be fixed, it allows for a much more efficient orthodontic treatment.
There are really only 3 reasons to do braces early: 1) Certain bite problems (crossbites), 2) Some abnormal growth of teeth (very rare), or 3) If there are social reasons (self-esteem). We find that in our office these group of patients are less than 10%. Most patients don’t need any kind of orthodontic treatment until they have lost all of their baby teeth.
Although we do not do a lot of early orthodontic treatment, it is always best to begin seeing patients around age 7, at least annually. These appointments allow for us to develop a relationship with patients and their family while observing their growth. The treatment that usually begins much later will progress better with us having more knowledge of their growth.
Please comment with any questions.