Braces do more than create a perfect smile, though braces do that very well. Most people elect to get braces to straighten crowded teeth, and make themselves feel more confident. But there’s more to it than that.
I’ll list below a few conditions that braces corrects:
Overbite: upper teeth are far ahead of lower teeth
When this is excessive, braces can do much to improve someone’s appearance and function.
Underbite: lower teeth are in front of upper teeth
Correcting this greatly improves individuals’ appearance and improves the bite or how the teeth fit together.
Open bite: top and bottom teeth don’t overlap
Correcting this allows teeth to overlap properly and to bite into food in the front part of the mouth.
I hope these 3 conditions posted above help you understand that braces do more than straighten. Yes, braces allow ideal biting in the front and back of the mouth. So, you get a lovely smile — what most people originally seek — and a well-fitting bite — something that will give you life-long benefit.
Extracting teeth for braces isn’t nearly as common as 30 years ago. But, in certain cases, we still need to remove teeth.
The two main reasons to remove teeth are: 1) severe crowding, as in image above, and 2) very full profile (can’t close lips well). Every orthodontist is different, and each provider practices with at least a slightly unique philosophy — even relating to extractions. However, most orthodontists still remove teeth when they feel space must be created.
Before brackets were glued on teeth — an innovation adopted by most in the 1980s — orthodontists used to place bands on all the teeth (see image above with a real “metal mouth”).
These days, if any bands are used at all, bands are placed only around the very back teeth or molars (see image above with metal ring or band around back molar and regular braces on other teeth more in front). Placing bands took up lots of space, requiring orthodontists to remove teeth to create room for bands. This, along with a higher awareness of preserving (popular) full profiles, has driving down extraction rates.
So, yes, we still remove teeth. But not at the rate of orthodontists from the more-distant past. We will happily review other aspects of this question at a free consultation.
The short answer is it depends. When to bring your child to our office depends on a lot. Here are a few things the decision depends on: 1) What does your child think? Is he/she embarrassed or teased at school, for example? 2) Do you, the parent(s), feel the condition is serious? 3) How many permanent teeth are in? 4) How old is the child? I could list several other factors.
Early treatment — often referred to as phase I — isn’t recommended for every child. However, depending on the child’s situation, early or interceptive treatment can be very helpful, even if all baby teeth haven’t fallen out yet.
Usually, it’s best to bring your child to the orthodontist for treatment when all the permanent teeth are in (around 12 years of age). However, if Johnny sucks his thumb, is teased at school, or has a few more-serious tooth/orthodontic issues it may be advantageous to do a short phase of treatment early (before 12).
That is, whenever Johnny has at least a few permanent teeth in (usually around 7) it may be a good time to do a short phase of braces (usually 6-12 months long). But, as indicated earlier, we usually only do early treatment (usually braces, and expander, and sometimes both) on kids when there is something fairly alarming: buck teeth, sucks thumb, teased at school, etc (see image above). For phase I we create a clear treatment plan and achieve our goals in under one year. Please keep in mind that your child may still need additional treatment when all permanent teeth have erupted (around 12).
To determine if this type of early treatment is beneficial for your child, we will need to take records (pictures and x-rays). So, please call to schedule a (free) orthodontic consultation: 520-732-8631.