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Child Orthodontics Overview

When is the best time to begin orthodontics?

Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, there is an optimal time period to begin treatment. Beginning treatment at this time ensures the greatest result and the least amount of time and expense. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the initial orthodontic evaluation should occur at the first sign of orthodontic problems or no later than age 7. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination can anticipate the most advantageous time to begin treatment.

What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?

Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later. When orthodontic intervention is not necessary, an orthodontist can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal.

Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?

By the age of 7, the first adult molars erupt, establishing the back bite. During this time, an orthodontist can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. For example, the presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles. Timely screening increases the chances for an incredible smile.

What are the advantages of interceptive treatment?

Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:

  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Creating facial symmetry through influencing jaw growth
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time with braces

Are you a candidate for orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile.

Why should malocclusions be treated?

According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems:

  • Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease.
  • Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping.
  • Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear.
  • Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments.

Phase II Treatment

Two-phase treatment occurs when a patient is evaluated and needs intervention before starting regular orthodontic treatment, resulting in two separate treatment plans.

The first phase of treatment, Phase I, usually occurs when the patient is a child and still has his or her primary teeth. The Phase I treatment plan can include preventive, interceptive or modifying treatment. Orthodontic appliances may be placed to prevent a problem from occurring, correct a current problem or help direct jawbone growth. Multiple problems with tooth alignment, gums, jaws and facial problems can be corrected with Phase I treatment. Another common added benefit of Phase I treatment is less Phase II treatment time.

Typically, Phase II treatment is normal orthodontic treatment. This involves placing braces on the patient once his or her permanent teeth have erupted. The braces straighten the permanent teeth and finish correctly aligning the patient’s jaw.

Patients who have undergone both Phase I and Phase II treatment are more likely to have lasting results. Our goal for your two-phase orthodontic treatment is to give you correctly aligned teeth that provide ideal jaw function and a great smile!

Types of Braces

For many teenagers, wearing braces is a part of life – an important part of life because a beautiful and healthy smile can boost one’s self-confidence. While many patients begin wearing braces as a child, it is not too late to begin orthodontic therapy to correct the alignment of the jaw bone and teeth during the teenage years.

We offer different types of braces depending on the wishes and needs of our teens. Some teens enjoy using colorful bands to express favorite team colors or holiday and seasonal colors, while others prefer clear, ceramic braces for a more aesthetic look. We offer high-tech braces such as Incognito™, SmartClip™, Clarity™, Damon® and Invisalign®, which comprises of a series of clear removable "aligners" with no metal wires or brackets.

Learn more about appliances like the thumb and finger appliance or headgear, or visit our Types of Braces page to learn about the types of braces we offer in our office. Also, be sure to visit our Retention page to learn more about maintaining the beautiful smile your braces achieved.

Invisalign®

Invisalign® is the clear way to straighten teeth without braces, using aligners. Aligners are removable and virtually invisible, which means you can straighten your teeth without anyone knowing; and you can still eat and drink what you want. Also, you can brush and floss normally to maintain healthy gums and teeth; and there are no wires, metal or brackets to cause mouth abrasions.

Many of our patients had never considered traditional braces but are now happily and comfortably improving their smiles with Invisalign.

What is Invisalign?

  • Invisible way to straighten your teeth without braces.
  • Series of clear, removable, custom-made Aligners.
  • Uses no metal wires or brackets.
  • Custom-made for comfort.

How does Invisalign work?

  • Wear each set of Aligners for about two weeks.
  • Remove only to eat, drink, brush and floss.
  • Your teeth will move gradually each week.
  • Visit us every 8-10 weeks.
  • Total treatment time averages 6-15 months.
  • Average number of Aligners is between 18 and 30.

Orthognathic Surgery

Corrective jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) treats and corrects abnormalities of the facial bones, specifically the jaws and the teeth. Learn more, here.