Orthodontics for Children

Most orthodontic treatment begins between ages 9 and 14. However, by age 7, problems with jaw growth or emerging teeth can be identified. This is significant since many orthodontic problems are more easily and appropriately treated at an early age. For this reason, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7.

While teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem only an orthodontist may detect. If a problem is identified, immediate treatment may not be indicated. Often, mild problems are monitored on a six month or annual basis until more growth occurs. In some cases, early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing, making treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. Typically, early treatment involves the use of orthodontic appliances to guide jaw and tooth development, creating a better environment for adult teeth as they emerge. In fact, in some cases it is not possible to achieve the same result once the face and jaws are more mature.

Orthodontics for Teens

Most patients begin orthodontic treatment between ages 9 and 16; however, this varies depending on the individual. Because adolescents still are growing, this is often the optimal time to correct orthodontic problems and achieve excellent results.

Most orthodontic problems are inherited. Examples of these genetic problems are crowding, excess space between teeth, protruding upper teeth, extra or missing teeth, and jaw growth problems.

Other orthodontic problems are acquired over time. They can be caused by thumb-sucking or finger-sucking as a child, mouth breathing, dental disease, abnormal swallowing, poor dental hygiene, the early or late loss of baby (primary) teeth, accidents, poor nutrition, or medical conditions.

Treatment is important because crooked or crowded teeth can be more difficult to clean, which may contribute to cavities and gum disease. An improper bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue, and possible jaw joint problems. Without treatment, problems may become worse. Orthodontic treatment to correct a problem may prove less costly than the additional dental care required to treat these same problems in later years.

The emotional side of an unattractive smile can affect children in the formative years. When children are not confident about the way they look, self-esteem can suffer. Teenagers with orthodontic problems left untreated may go through life feeling self-conscious, hiding their teeth and their smile.

Adult Orthodontics

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. Modern advances in technology and treatment methods have more men and women than ever interested in orthodontics. In fact, one of every five patients in orthodontic treatment is over 21. If you have always wanted straighter teeth, there has never been a better time to begin your journey toward healthier teeth, a better bite, and a more stunning smile!

For adults, the appearance of braces may be a concern. Dr. Cardenas is happy to offer aesthetic alternatives to conventional metal braces. Please ask us if clear braces or Invisalign (invisible braces) are right for you.

Adult orthodontic treatment is similar to treatment in adolescents, but there are some differences. Adults may have some existing breakdown or loss of their teeth and bone that supports the teeth and may require gum and dental treatment in conjunction with orthodontics. Also, more frequent cleanings at the family dentist’s office are often required to maintain healthy gums and teeth. During your orthodontic consultation, Dr. Cardenas will explain the best procedures and cleaning schedules to follow in order to make your treatment comfortable and healthy.