Why are so many eight-year-olds in braces these days?

ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT FOR CHILDREN

One of the most commonly asked questions about orthodontics in the Castle Rock community is…

                      “Why do I see so many eight-year-olds in braces these days?

An excellent article published by the Wall Street Journal discusses the pros and cons. To summarize the article, early or “two phase” treatment is orthodontic treatment before all the permanent teeth have erupted.  This approach is used when waiting to treat would create a significantly more difficult treatment plan or less stable outcome.  The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children be evaluated at the age of 7.  With that being said, only a relatively small percentage of those children will need early treatment.  Orthodontists generally agree that the optimum time to treat a case is during the adolescent growth spurt.  In girls this is typically seen from ages 9 to 12, and in boys from ages 10-14.  There are exceptions due to individual variation in growth.

Lysle Johnston, one of the most prominent orthodontic educators of our day, has argued that a lot of early treatment is a “practice management decision” rather than a biologic imperativeIt is his way of kindly stating that much of it is done unnecessarily.

The fundamental questions Dr. Rejman asks when evaluating a patient for early treatment are as follows:

  •  If I don’t treat this patient now, will I miss a window of opportunity that will negatively affect his/her outcome?
  • If I do 2 phases on this patient, will I achieve a better and/or more stable outcome than treating with one phase?
  • Will the patient look/function any differently at 18 if I treat in 1 phase versus 2 phases?

If the answer to any of the above is “yes,” then early treatment may be indicated.  Typical orthodontic problems treated early include cross bites or narrow palates, open bites, and under bites.  Early treatment usually requires a second phase of orthodontic treatment when all the permanent teeth have erupted.  When possible, Dr. Rejman prefers to treat patients in a single phase of treatment.  Advantages of single phase treatment include less time in appliances (braces), less patient “burn out” and significantly less cost for families.

Dr. Rejman offers a complimentary exam to assess your child’s orthodontic needs.  If treatment is indicated, we’ll discuss why and what specifically is needed.  If orthodontic problems are evident but no early treatment is indicated, we will continue to periodically monitor your child’s teeth and jaw development at no fee until the time is appropriate for treatment.

Dr. Rejman is the owner of Meadows Orthodontics, a private practice in Castle Rock, Colorado.  Dr. Rejman is conservative about early or “two phase” treatment.  He is also one of the few Board Certified orthodontists in Douglas County and has treated over 4000 patients.  He has been voted a TOP ORTHODONTIST by 5280 magazine in both 2012 and 2013.