For most children the ideal time for braces is during the adolescent and early teen years (10-13 years). In cases where Dr. Helms has deemed that early treatment is not necessary (age 7), it is often recommended delaying the start of orthodontic treatment until all or most all of the permanent teeth have erupted. The appropriate time to start treatment is determined by the type of malocclusion present.
Overbites: It is advantageous to treat most mild/moderate overbites during adolescence because growth can be used to supplement tooth movement. Treatment should be started before growth slows. Peak growth usually is slowing at age 12.5 in females and 15.5 in males. Severe overbites may need to be managed even earlier to take advantage of as much growth as possible.
Underbites: It is ideal to correct underbites as soon as they are noticed in the permanent dentition (age 7). Sometimes underbites will relapse due to lower jaw growth during peak growth. Adolescence is the best time to treat mild /moderate underbites because if a few baby teeth are present it allows maximum manipulation of the permanent teeth. Severe underbites may need to be managed once growth is complete (age 18 for females and 21 for males). Even for those with severe underbites a portion of treatment may need to be managed during adolescence (arch widening etc).
Is it too late to start orthodontic treatment after all of the permanent teeth are in?
- Permanent tooth eruption does not always follow the timing of peak growth. Therefore, it depends on the person and their unique situation.
Why is peak growth so important?
- Using peak growth results in less manipulation of the teeth, which results in a more stable outcome (less movement from their natural position).
Will growth alone correct the bite?
- Growth will not correct the bite without orthodontic treatment. The teeth are locked into a position and will grow together.