It’s hard to imagine there ever being a time when orthodontic treatment should be delayed or completely ruled out – but the reality is that just like any other dental or medical procedure; all conditions have to be lined-up for a favourable outcome.
'Health First' Principle
Orthodontists who are focused on ensuring the best treatment result are guided by the principle of ‘health first’ – meaning that the health of the mouth has to be in optimal condition before orthodontic brackets or aligners can be introduced, and the suitability to begin treatment must be met dentally, health wise, and age wise. Having a great smile sometimes means waiting for the perfect time to begin treatment.
Here are a few reasons your orthodontist might refuse or delay orthodontic treatment.
Dental Decay & Periodontal Disease
Acknowledging that the health of the mouth at the start of orthodontic treatment greatly impacts the ability to complete treatment in a timely manner and to a satisfactory level means that dental disease such as decay should be addressed prior to the placement of orthodontic appliances.
Not only does decay pose a risk for pain and discomfort – something that can interrupt and delay the progression of treatment – but having to treat caries after orthodontics have begun can alter the fit and efficacy of aligners and brackets. If you’ve been diagnosed with decay don’t be surprised if your orthodontist holds-off on starting treatment until your general dentist has restored teeth back to optimal health.
Active periodontal disease will also delay treatment and in some cases be avoided completely due to the health of jaw bone – an essential player in the successful movement and long term stability of teeth.
A Lack of Adult Teeth
You may have thought that all and any teeth are candidates for tooth straightening, and though you’re not entirely wrong, there are some fundamental principles in place that guide when treatment should ideally begin and at what age.
When a child has baby teeth, it’s a great opportunity for an orthodontist to review and assess the child’s bite – hence the recommendation that a child should see an orthodontist by the age of 7 for an initial diagnosis.
Monitoring tooth eruption and jaw development provides opportunities for treatment to begin at opportune times that coincide with growth spurts and the eruption of adult teeth.
Jaw Injuries or Disorders
Interestingly, orthodontic treatment is often recommended to help resolve ongoing jaw issues, but sometimes has to be avoided due to excessive damage to joints caused by trauma, arthritis, bite imbalance and active joint degeneration.
Orthodontic treatment may be put on hold until the health of jaw joints is assessed and it is established that tooth movement won’t put further strain on the joints.
One of the biggest factors in refusal or delay of orthodontic treatment by an orthodontist is patient compliance – or lack of. Wanting the perfect smile is just part of the plan – agreeing to wear appliances as directed by your orthodontist and attending appointments on schedule are major factors that can delay or prevent treatment if not exercised.