How do I know if my child is in need of orthodontic treatment?

s-smile.jpgIt is usually difficult for you to determine if treatment is necessary because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. Also, there are some problems that look intimidating and complex, which will resolve on their own. Asking your general dentist is good reference, but we are your best resource since orthodontics is all we do. Our initial exam is complimentary, and we would be more than happy to see your child and make any recommendations necessary.

What are the early symptoms of orthodontic problems?

Although determining if treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following symptoms may help in prompting you to seek our orthodontic advice:

  • Ask your child to open their mouth, and let you look at their teeth. If you see any signs of crooked teeth, gaps between your child's teeth or overlapping teeth, your child may need orthodontic treatment.
  • Ask your child to bite all the way down, but keeping their lips open so you can see their teeth. Do the front top teeth line up with the bottom? Do the top teeth protrude out away from the bottom teeth? Do the top front teeth cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth? Are the top teeth behind the bottom teeth? All these are indicators for potential orthodontic treatment.
  • Look at the alignment of your child's jaw. Does the jaw shift off center when your child bites down? If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, your child may have a skeletal problem that requires early orthodontic intervention.

These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.

By what age should my child be seen by an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by age 7. Early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early corrective action and avoid more difficult treatment later.

Can you be too old for braces?

No, age is not a factor – only the health of your gums and bone which support your teeth. About 25% of our orthodontic patients are adults, and that number is still growing!

Will orthodontic treatment hurt?

Orthodontic treatment has improved dramatically. As a rule, braces make your teeth sore for a few days, but it is not painful. This annoyance can be relieved with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Today's braces are smaller, more comfortable, and use technology that reduces the discomfort. We use the latest in miniature braces and the highest quality of orthodontic materials in order to reduce discomfort and treatment time.

Can I still have braces if I have missing teeth?

Yes. When teeth are missing, adjacent teeth will drift into the empty space. This will cause a functional, esthetic or periodontal problem. Orthodontic treatment will correct and prevent these problems from happening and will also provide proper alignment for your dentist to replace the missing teeth.

Questions About the Treatment

What is Phase I (Interceptive Treatment) and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or Interceptive Treatment, usually starts while the child has most of their baby teeth and a few of their permanent front incisors. This stage in development is usually about the age of 8 to 9. The goal of Phase I treatment is to intercept a moderate or severe orthodontic problem early in order to reduce its severity. These problems include skeletal growth problems, crossbites and crowding. Phase I treatment takes advantage of the early growth spurt and turns a difficult orthodontic problem into a more manageable one. This helps reduce the need for extractions or surgery and delivers better long-term results and treatment options. Almost all Phase I patients require a Phase II treatment in order to achieve an ideal bite.

Phase II treatment usually occurs one or two years later. Usually, we are waiting for 12-16 more permanent teeth to erupt before Phase II begins. This most commonly occurs at the age of 12 or 13. The goal of Phase II treatment is to achieve an ideal occlusion with all of the permanent teeth.

What is full or comprehensive orthodontic treatment?

This is another name for orthodontic treatment in the permanent dentition at any age. It is more commonly used when a Phase I treatment was not performed.

Does everyone need a Phase I treatment?

Absolutely not! Only certain bites require early intervention. All others can, and should, wait until most or all their permanent teeth erupt.

Can I wait on Phase I/Interceptive orthodontic treatment until my child is older?

This is not recommended. If your child needs Phase I treatment, this usually means that he or she has a difficult problem that requires attention now. If no orthodontic action is taken, treatment options become limited, more difficult, and the long-term stability may be compromised. In addition, it may lead to extractions, oral surgery and increased costs.

What is the length or duration of orthodontic treatment?

Braces may be on between 6 months to 30 months, or longer depending on the age of the patient, the severity of the problem, the patient's cooperation, and the degree of movement possible.

What are extraction and non-extraction therapy, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Extraction therapy is a technique where some teeth are removed to make room for the other teeth in your child's mouth. This is in contrast to non-extraction therapy where one expands a patient’s jaw or shaves down some teeth to make everything fit.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of braces?

There are Designer Braces™ in gold and sapphire to add a touch of class. Even Outrageous Braces™ in bright purple, pink, green and black. As a parent, you will have to decide whether you want your children to have plain, old-fashioned braces or something modern and stylish. We make both kinds, but recommend the stylish braces whenever possible.

What are lingual braces?

Lingual braces are mounted behind a patient's teeth. They were used many years ago, before the advent of orthocosmetic™ braces. Lingual braces are rarely used anymore. Generally, lingual braces are more uncomfortable than standard braces. Orthodontic treatment takes twice as long and is more costly. In addition, some people have trouble talking with lingual braces. Presently, lingual braces are only used in special clinical cases.

Will I pay extra for designer braces?

No, our practice includes these options in the basic fee. We want you or your child to look your best with your braces and to feel as comfortable as possible while undergoing treatment.

Is orthodontic care expensive?

When orthodontic treatment is implemented at the proper time, treatment is often less costly than the dental care required to treat the more serious problems that can develop years later. Orthodontic fees have not increased as fast as many other consumer products. Financing is usually available, and our office offers many payment programs that will meet your needs. In addition, many insurance plans now include orthodontics.