Early Treatment

The timing of orthodontic treatment.
(Early treatment…to do or not to do?…)

There is a great deal of confusion and false information amongst the public re the timing of orthodontic treatment. No two individuals are the same, quite often similar, but not the same.

Eighty to ninety per cent of malocclusions* are best treated when most/all the permanent teeth are in the mouth, but there is a definite
10-15% of people who require earlier, interceptive treatment in order to avoid a complex malocclusion from developing. In some cases this may be the only treatment necessary, but in others it may simplify future treatment with fixed braces and avoid complicated-, uncomfortable and lengthy treatment procedures.

Impacted eyeteeth

Lengthy treatment is sometimes unavoidable but it is usually these cases that did not have the indicated interceptive treatment, to avoid future complications that cause the increased treatment time. Such an example is impacted eye teeth that can’t grow normally into the mouth because of space shortage or the wrong position of the tooth germ.

Therefore it is our policy to screen most children at the age of ± 8 years by clinical examination and taking a panoramic x-ray to determine the position and development of the permanent teeth. Thus we can assess whether any early treatment is indicated and make sure of the correct timing. Usually most children will be followed up on a yearly basis, or longer, if no treatment is indicated.

The old adage, prevention is better than cure, can be adapted in Orthodontics, too: In most cases early treatment is not indicated, but when it is, it is essential to do it in order to avoid/lessen future problems.

This should be clearly demonstrated, understood and agreed upon by patient and parents, before any appliance therapy is commenced.

*Malocclusion = poor fitting of teeth