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Is it too late to straighten my teeth?

By Dr. Wade Newman D.D.S., with help from Dr. R. Paul Campbell D.M.D.

When is the best time to start orthodontic treatment?

Well, if your child was the dentists’ child, when would he/she start treatment? That’s how you would like your child to be treated. You can ask your dentist this question directly!

Many orthodontic problems can be identified as early as age six. After your child’s initial exam, a comprehensive long-term treatment plan should be formulated and coordinated year-by-year to reach the final desired result. While there might be several years without treatment, other years may be reserved for full braces. When your dentist has more time for treatment, full correction is more predictable, with the smile that everyone wishes for realized in the great majority of cases!

Each problem has a “best” time to correct. A crowded tooth may be straightened at any time, but if a tooth is straightened and held in the corrected position for a longer time, then retention of this new position is improved. Some bite problems are best treated during periods of growth, while others require significant patient cooperation. Teenage patients might not be good about wearing their removable appliances, but they are more willing to when they are only eight years old. To give your dentist as much time as possible to formulate a plan and treat your child, request an orthodontic evaluation when your son or daughter is six years old!

What can be done early?

Early may be defined here as any time before the full eruption of the permanent teeth and is commonly referred to by dentists as Phase I Treatment. Most Phase I Treatment is designed to accelerate corrections and eliminate specific problems that may be resistant to full braces treatment later in life. Starting treatment early will minimize orthodontic problems and reduce the time your child will spend in full braces.

The final straightening, bite correction, and establishment of the best smile are reserved for Phase II Treatment after all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Full eruption usually takes place around age eleven for girls and thirteen for boys; of course, each patient is different. The orthodontist will list the treatment goals of Phase I and Phase II at the consultations, using computerized prediction methods to make the most accurate diagnosis.

Reasons to Start Treatment Early

The best reason to start early is to be assured that the complete problem is corrected, reaching a final smile that is beautiful. Some malocclusions adversely affect the child's social development and self-image, so treating these situations early is encouraged. With regards to your child, a value judgment must be made for each individual and for each problem. Your orthodontist will make recommendations specific to your children and treat them as if they were her own.

Eagle Valley Family Dentistry is a family dental practitice in Bellefonte and is accepting new patients. You may contact Eagle Valley Family Dentistry at 745 South Eagle Valley Road, Bellefonte PA 16823, (814) 473-5554 or visit


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