One of the most common questions we are asked relates to the age at which orthodontic treatment should ideally begin. The answer depends on the individual patient and his or her condition. Some orthodontic problems require waiting until full completion of growth, some are best treated once all the adult teeth have erupted, and others if not managed early, can lead to more serious problems later in development that may be difficult to correct. It is only through an initial examination that Dr. Hallgren can determine appropriate treatment timing. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child’s first visit to an orthodontist take place at age seven. In general, we offer the following phases of treatment:
Interceptive (Phase I Care)
Interceptive care involves the treatment of younger children prior to the eruption of all permanent teeth. This phase of treatment can be very productive for some patients. A goal is to intercept moderate or severe orthodontic problems early in order to reduce or eliminate them. Early treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correct crossbites, overbites, underbites or harmful oral habits. Interceptive treatment takes advantage of the early growth spurt and can turn a difficult problem into a more manageable one. This often helps reduce the eventual need for extractions or surgery. Once additional physical and dental development have taken place, comprehensive treatment is usually necessary in order to achieve an ideal final bite. The complexity of the comprehensive phase is normally reduced when interceptive treatment is performed.
Most of our adolescent patients are excited about starting treatment with us. Braces provide beautiful healthy smiles and are now in style! We believe it is important to bond with adolescent patients, creating a partnership in achieving excellent results. When we connect with our patients, they are much more committed to the responsibilities required of them to successfully complete their treatment (good oral hygiene, proper diet, wearing elastics, etc.). Adolescents live in a very competitive world. Social pressures and educational responsibilities can sometimes become overwhelming. We understand that looking their best is important both socially and from a future career perspective. The differences that we see in the level of confidence in our adolescent patients after they have completed treatment are deeply rewarding for us as care providers.
Adult patients often feel initially that they are “too old” for orthodontic treatment. We treat large numbers of adult patients of all ages. Adult patients are very rewarding to treat because they are extremely motivated and have personally invested in their smiles and are therefore willing to make the effort to work to achieve their orthodontic goals. However, adult care can be more challenging than early or adolescent care. Often the teeth do not move as easily. There may be pre-existing periodontal disease, missing teeth, restorations and/or dental implants. Sometimes, periodontal “gum” treatment is required before braces can be placed. We are very experienced in multi-disciplinary care involving multiple dental specialists, including oral and maxillofacial surgeons. We also recognize the importance of ongoing communication with your family dentist so that full comprehensive care is provided.