Orthodontics and its myths

Orthodontic treatment can be postponed

It all depends on the patient's age and the type of problem. The child's growth period is crucial for dental operations.

With adults, it's much more difficult to intervene

In fact, the balance of the bony base of the mandible and jaw is already set.

For biological reasons, it is therefore very important to plan the following interventions according to the child's development:

1. Widening and spreading the jaws with a palatal expander (6 to 10 years)

Certain procedures, such as palatal expander placement, are best performed when children are between 6 and 10 years of age, as this is the age at which the upper jaw is particularly suited to this kind of treatment. Proceeding later would be of little use.

2. Correct a very large gap between the two jaws (adolescence)

Other procedures, such as correcting a large gap between the two jaws, are more easily performed during adolescence, when growth peaks and results can be achieved much more quickly.

Specialists are aware that "the train only passes once", and that it's then too late to benefit from dental alignment assessments that are as good as if they had been carried out at the right time. This doesn't mean that working with adults is impossible. It's just that it must be carried out at the right time to be beneficial in terms of interlocking and harmonization. These interventions can be delayed by a few months, but the more time passes, the greater the risks.

In some cases, is waiting a few years preferable?

If the patient doesn't have any urgent problems at 8 or 9 years of age, it's best to wait a while before performing an operation, since he or she still has many milk teeth. It will then be more appropriate to solve the ali- gment problem when he's 13 or 14 and has all his permanent teeth. In such cases, it's best to wait until the orthodontist advises you to align the teeth only once.

On the contrary, if a problem is causing a specific need in an 8- or 9-year-old child, it's best not to wait and immediately begin a first phase of orthodontics, followed by a second, simpler phase once the permanent teeth are in place.

Not all orthodontists carry out preventive interventions at such an early stage in a child's life, as each has his or her own habits and working methods. From my point of view, the best approach is to offer the shortest, most effective treatment possible to minimize the impact on the patient's life.

When it comes to preventive orthodontics, age is an essential variable. It is preferable to treat patients when they are still young (between 6 and 9 years of age), so that any problems can be identified as early as possible, and appropriate treatment offered if necessary. In general, this first-phase care lasts between six and twelve months (rarely longer). After that, it's possible to wait quietly until adolescence and the arrival of all the permanent teeth.

However, this figure varies according to gender: the procedure is performed between the ages of 10 and 12 for girls (who grow faster) and between 12 and 14 for boys. In this way, the procedure takes advantage of the growth peak, allowing the teeth and jaw to be aligned at the same time.

For adults, there is no age limit for intervention. However, the more time passes, the more likely it is that the teeth will be damaged. What's more, treatment is more delicate on teeth that have already had problems with their gums or bone (periodontal problems, typical of older or predisposed people).

So it's best not to wait too long before consulting a specialist!

At what age should your child see an orthodontist?

Ideally, the first visit should take place between the ages of 6 and 9, in order to identify problems requiring intervention.

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