September 27, 2010
In the News: NPR, “Morning Edition”
Braces For Young Kids Might Not Always Be Best
by ALLISON AUBREY
If you walk the halls of an elementary school, you’re likely to see a lot of “metal mouths.” Many parents are now opting for early orthodontic treatment, and the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist for an evaluation no later than age 7. But research shows there are often advantages to deferring treatment, though decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
“There’s been a number of studies that have shown for some very common problems that you’re better off waiting until all the permanent teeth have come in first before treatment is started,” says Robert Williams, a board certified orthodontist who teaches at the University of Maryland.
Common problems that fall into the “better-to-defer” category include conditions such as overjets — that’s when teeth protrude or stick out — or crooked teeth that just need simple straightening.
“Many years ago, you wouldn’t do anything until the permanent teeth were all in,” says Antonino Secchi, a professor of orthodontics at the University of Pennsylvania. Now he says if parents opt to treat an overjet early — say at age 9 — the child may end up needing another phase of intervention a few years down the road.
“And at the end, instead of having two years of orthodontics, you end up having four years of orthodontics,” Secchi says. And he says this can be much more expensive. “Instead of paying one bill, you pay two bills.”
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