Early Treatment

We believe in the power of early assessment (age 7-12), which allows us to identify and address potential issues early, which improves treatment efficacy.

When is the ideal time for a child to first visit an orthodontist and why?

The most appropriate time for a child’s first orthodontist visit isn’t set in stone, as it largely depends on the individual’s oral development. However, many orthodontists advise that children should have their initial consultation around age 7, which is typically when their permanent teeth start coming in. At this age, potential issues such as uneven bites and overcrowding begin to manifest. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the child will immediately get braces. Rather, this early evaluation allows the orthodontist to detect potential problems and decide the optimal time to commence treatment.

What determines if a child needs braces?

The need for braces in children is determined by a number of factors, including the presence of crooked, overlapping, or overcrowded teeth, or a “bad bite” which is technically known as malocclusion. Malocclusion arises when there’s a size discrepancy between the top and bottom jaws, leading to conditions like overbite (where the upper jaw is larger) or underbite (where the lower jaw is larger). These dental issues can result from various causes, including the premature loss of baby teeth, accidents, or habits like thumb sucking. They can also be hereditary, so if you or another family member needed braces, it’s likely your child might too.

What happens during the first orthodontic visit?

The first orthodontic visit comprises a comprehensive examination of your child’s teeth, mouth, and jaw. The orthodontist may ask your child to bite the teeth together and may also ask about any problems your child might be experiencing with chewing or swallowing, or any history of jaw clicking or popping. The orthodontist may also conduct X-rays of the mouth and teeth to visualize the positioning of the teeth and to determine whether any permanent teeth are yet to emerge. Impressions of your child’s teeth might be taken by pressing a tray of gooey material into the top and bottom teeth. Once the mold hardens, the result is a precise replica of your child’s teeth, aiding the orthodontist in determining the best treatment options.

What types of braces are available for kids?

The majority of children usually get braces equipped with brackets, wires, and rubber bands. The brackets attach to the teeth and are linked by a wire and rubber bands. The wire is progressively tightened over time, slowly helping to line the teeth up properly. Kids can pick fun colors for the rubber bands. While metal braces are still common, there are alternatives like clear or white ceramic braces which are much less noticeable. Some braces even go behind the teeth, known as lingual braces. Another option is clear removable braces or aligners that move teeth with plastic trays instead of wires and rubber bands, although these are suitable only for certain cases.

How long does a child typically need to wear braces and what aftercare is needed?

The duration your child needs to wear braces will depend on the problems the orthodontist is trying to correct. On average, this is usually around two years. Following this period, your child might need to wear a specially molded retainer, which can be a small, hard piece of plastic with metal wires or a thin piece of plastic shaped like a mouthguard. Retainers are important in keeping the teeth from reverting back to their original positions. In terms of aftercare, children with braces need to maintain excellent oral hygiene as it’s easy for food to get stuck in wired braces. This involves brushing after meals, daily flossing (a special flosser may be provided by the orthodontist), and regular dental cleanings and check-ups to look for cavities. Certain foods that could damage braces, such as popcorn, hard and sticky candy, and gum, should be avoided. Sugary drinks can also contribute to tooth decay. Kids using clear plastic aligners should always remove them before eating.

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