Orthodontics FAQ

What age should my child have an orthodontic evaluation?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic screening for children by the time that they are 7. At this age, their teeth and jaws are developed enough so that the dentist or orthodontist can see if there will be any bite issues in the future. Usually, treatment is not necessary at the age of 7, but it allows the parents and dentist time to watch how the patient develops and decide on the best way to treat them. If you have time, you can plan ahead and prevent any serious problems from forming in the future.

Why is it important to have orthodontic treatment at a young age?

Research has proven that serious orthodontic problems can be more easily corrected when the patient’s skeleton is still growing. By correcting these problems at a young age, we can help prepare the mouth for the eruption of the permanent teeth. If these teeth have the proper space to erupt, they will come in pretty much straight as a result. If the teeth erupt fairly straight, the tendency for them to become crooked after the braces have come off is reduced drastically. After the permanent teeth have erupted (usually from the ages of 12-14), complete braces are placed for their final alignment and their bite is detailed. This makes the final stage of treatment a lot faster and easier on the patient. This usually lasts for 12-18 months and is not started until all of the permanent teeth have erupted.

Doing these treatments in two steps makes it so we have excellent results, which allow the doctor to avoid the removal of permanent teeth and jaw surgery. The treatment that is done with some of the baby teeth still there is called Phase-1 while the last part of treatment, in which all the permanent teeth have erupted is called Phase-2.

Why is it important to have orthodontic treatment at a young age?

Research has proven that serious orthodontic problems can be more easily corrected when the patient’s skeleton is still growing. By correcting these problems at a young age, we can help prepare the mouth for the eruption of the permanent teeth. If these teeth have the proper space to erupt, they will come in pretty much straight as a result. If the teeth erupt fairly straight, the tendency for them to become crooked after the braces have come off is reduced drastically. After the permanent teeth have erupted (usually from the ages of 12-14), complete braces are placed for their final alignment and their bite is detailed. This makes the final stage of treatment a lot faster and easier on the patient. This usually lasts for 12-18 months and is not started until all of the permanent teeth have erupted.

Doing these treatments in two steps makes it so we have excellent results, which allow the doctor to avoid the removal of permanent teeth and jaw surgery. The treatment that is done with some of the baby teeth still there is called Phase-1 while the last part of treatment, in which all the permanent teeth have erupted is called Phase-2.

What causes crooked teeth?

Crooked teeth can be caused by many things such as tongue thrusting, thumb sucking, premature loss of baby teeth, poor breathing airway caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils, and crowded teeth. There are also hereditary factors along with other dental problems like extra teeth, large teeth, missing teeth, small jaws and wide spacing.  All of which can be causes of crowded teeth.

How do teeth move?

Teeth move as a result of light pressure over a period of time. This pressure is applied by using a multitude of orthodontic hardware (appliances), the most common is a brace or bracket attached to the teeth which are connected by an archwire. Changing these wires periodically puts pressure on the teeth. Your child may wear elastics, a positioner, retainer, or headgear during different stages of this treatment. The appointments for this treatment are usually scheduled 4 to 6 weeks apart to give the teeth time to move.

Will it hurt?

When your teeth are first moved, you may feel a bit of discomfort which can last anywhere from 24 to 72 hours. While this may sound scary, many patients report a lessening of pain as the treatment progresses. You can also take some pain medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help relieve the pain.