Timing of Orthodontic Treatment

At what age can people have orthodontic treatment?

Healthy teeth can be moved at any age. Many orthodontic problems can be corrected as easily as well as for adults as children. Orthodontic forces move the teeth in the same way for both a 60-year-old adult and a 12-year-old child. However, because an adult's facial bones are no longer growing, some severe malocclusions cannot be corrected with braces alone and some may require a combination therapy of jaw surgery and braces.

How long does orthodontic treatment take? Is there any way to shorten the time?

Active treatment time with orthodontic appliances can range from one to three years. It all depends on whether you have extraction or non-extraction treatment; your age and does it include an orthopedic treatment phase or not. There's no shortcut for orthodontic treatment, since teeth need time to move. However, if you listen to your orthodontist1s advice and instruction (e.g. wearing elastics and headgear as instructed) and act accordingly, this may shorten your treatment time considerably. In general, mild problems usually require less time, and some individuals respond faster to treatment than others.

I'm 46 years old. Am I too old to wear braces?

It is never too old to have Orthodontics. Provided the teeth and their supporting structures are healthy, orthodontists can move them at anytime even though in some cases it may slower.

Is there any compromise in having orthodontic treatment as an adult as compared to a child?

There are more limitations for adults having comprehensive orthodontic treatment as compared to a child. The facial and skeletal pattern of an adult is largely unchanged and because of slower growth, having orthodontic treatment alone cannot alter them. Correction of large jaw discrepancy in adults may only be done through combined orthodontic and surgical procedures. Procedures (such as functional appliances) used in modifying jaw relationship in a child cannot be used successfully in an adult.

When should I first bring my child to see an orthodontist?

The HKSO recommends that children should see an orthodontist for an initial orthodontic assessment no later than the age of 7. This examination allows the orthodontist to determine the optimum time to commence treatment. In some growing children, orthodontic problems will benefit from a course of earlier treatment to improve the bite so that the later course of orthodontic treatment can be minimized or completely avoided. In those children, where no immediate therapy is indicated, the orthodontist may want to monitor the child's growth and dental development. Waiting until all the permanent teeth have come in, or until facial growth is nearly complete, may make correction of some problems more difficult.