Child & Adolescent Treatment

Orthodontic treatment in the pre-teen or early teenager years is the most common treatment we provide.  As I’m sure you’ve noticed, many 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders are in braces or Invisalign.  Is there a reason that ‘everyone’ gets braces or Invisalign at this time? In a word: Yes.

Our goal as orthodontists is to align the permanent teeth and correct the jaw position for a proper bite. Generally by the age of 11-13 the deciduous (baby) teeth have all been lost, and the permanent ones have come in, so comprehensive orthodontic treatment can begin. 

Orthodontic problems don’t improve with age. It’s simpler and more effective to treat many orthodontic problems during adolescence because the body is still growing rapidly at this time. Whether we use standard braces, Invisalign, or appliances like palatal expanders, we can efficiently create an improved appearance and function. When treatment is done, your smile and bite are benefits that can last your entire life.

The Orthodontic Treatment Process

What can you expect when you come in to our office for treatment? It all depends on what kind of treatment you need. The first time you come in, we evaluate your need for orthodontic treatment. If you are ready for treatment, then we schedule a records appointment to take pictures, radiographs, and a digital scan of your teeth (no more impressions!), and we schedule a consultation appointment to review the diagnosis and treatment plan with you.  

Treatment typically involves metal braces, clear braces, or Invisalign, as you can see below. Once braces or Invisalign treatment has begun, adjustment appointments occur at approximately 8-10 week intervals.  

metal-braces

Metal Braces are smaller than ever, yet still come with over 20 colors.

clear-braces

Clear Braces feature brackets made of ceramic that blend in with your teeth, making them harder to notice.  

clear-aligners

Invisalign is a series of removable, clear plastic trays that gradually straighten teeth as they’re worn.

braces before after

How Long Will I Wear Them?

There’s no one answer that fits everyone: It all depends on what we need to do in your individual situation. Generally, however, comprehensive orthodontic treatment lasts about 18-24 months. Afterwards, you will wear a retainer so you can enjoy your smile you created for a lifetime.

Early Treatment

Phase One Treatment

Most patients will begin treatment when they have nearly all their adult teeth, around 11 or 12 years old. However, for some patients an earlier orthodontic phase is needed.  

Common reasons for Phase I treatment:

  • Stop a thumb or finger sucking habit
  • Correct a crossbite
  • Make room for crowded teeth
  • Decrease the protrusion of upper front teeth (“Buck teeth”) to reduce the risk of chipping these teeth 
  • Catch ectopic eruption of adult teeth early.  Ectopic teeth are teeth that are erupting out of place.  Identifying and treating these teeth early reduces your treatment time and reduces the risk of damaging nearby teeth.

For more information on the initial exam and consultation to determine if orthodontic treatment is right for you, see our page on planning your First Visit.

When is the best time to begin orthodontics?

Though an orthodontist can enhance a smile at any age, the correct timing can simplify your treatment and reduce the length of time.  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 examination can anticipate the best time to begin treatment.

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