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 of the adult teeth have erupted, and others if not managed very early in development can lead to serious problems later in development that may be difficult to correct. It is only through an initial consultation that Dr. Sperber 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 orthodontic treatment:
Interceptive (Phase I) Care:
Interceptive care involves the treatment of younger children prior to the eruption of the permanent teeth. If a child can benefit from early interceptive care, our goal is usually to address habits (e.g. thumb sucking), inadequate space required for proper tooth eruption, adverse jaw relationships, impacted teeth (teeth unable to erupt), damaging bites, and psychosocial issues associated with malpositioned teeth. Once additional physical and dental development has taken place, comprehensive treatment can be planned. The complexity of the comprehensive phase is often 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 feel that 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 willing to commit to the responsibilities required of them to successfully complete their treatment (proper oral hygiene, proper diet, wearing elastics). 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.
Adult patients often feel initially that they are “too old” for orthodontic treatment. We treat large numbers of adult patients, and many of them have been well into their 60s at the start of treatment. Adult patients are very rewarding to treat because they are extremely motivated and have personally invested in their smile and are willing to make the effort to work to achieve their orthodontic goals. However, adult care is typically 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 in ongoing communication with your general dentist, so that comprehensive care is provided.