The appropriate age for commencement of orthodontic treatment is different for everyone, depending on individual timing of referral, particular problem to be corrected and stage of dental development. There are some orthodontic problems that indicate early orthodontic treatment during the mixed dentition stage when both deciduous (baby) teeth and permanent (adult) teeth are present. Early or interceptive treatment, typically from 7 to 10 years of age, can be necessary to prevent damage to permanent teeth due to bite interference, maintain and provide space for eruption of permanent teeth, guide more favourable jaw growth or most importantly, correct the width of the upper jaw that could be adversely affecting the position of the lower jaw. Following interceptive treatment, it is generally anticipated that comprehensive orthodontic treatment could also be necessary when all permanent teeth have erupted.
Early orthodontic treatment duration is usually minimal and treatment indications generally functional rather than cosmetic, although a healthy, beautiful smile with straight teeth will boost confidence and self-esteem. Benefits include:
- Bite correction
- Improved oral function, particularly chewing, swallowing and speech
- Jaw growth modification and guidance
- Co-ordination of upper and lower jaw widths
- Decreased risk of wear affecting permanent teeth
- Correction of protruded upper incisors to reduce the risk of trauma
- Reduced incidence of impacted permanent teeth
- Improved oral hygiene
- Increased confidence, self-esteem
- Simplify or reduce treatment time for later comprehensive orthodontic treatment
- Reduce indications for jaw surgery
These early treatment benefits will help maintain healthy teeth and a beautiful smile for a lifetime.