Orthodontic Frequently Asked Questions

What age should my child have an orthodontic evaluation?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic screening for children by the age of 7 years. At age 7 the teeth and jaws are developed enough so that the orthodontist can see if there will be any serious bite problems in the future. Most of the time treatment is not necessary at age 7, but it gives the parents and orthodontist time to watch the development of the patient and decide on the best mode of treatment. When you have time on your side you can plan ahead and prevent the formation of serious problems.

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

Research has shown that serious orthodontic problems can be more easily corrected when the patient’s skeleton is still growing and flexible. By correcting the skeletal problems at a younger age we can prepare the mouth for the eventual eruption of the permanent teeth. If the permanent teeth have adequate space to erupt they will come in fairly straight. If the teeth erupt fairly straight their tendency to get crooked again after the braces come off is diminished significantly. After the permanent teeth have erupted, usually from age 10-13, complete braces are placed for final alignment and detailing of the bite. Thus the final stage of treatment is quicker and easier on the patient. This phase of treatment usually lasts from 12 – 18 month and is not started until all of the permanent teeth are erupted.

Doing orthodontic treatments in two steps provides excellent results often allowing the doctor to avoid removal of permanent teeth and jaw surgery. The treatment done when some of the baby teeth are still present is called Phase-1. The last part of treatment after all the permanent teeth have erupted is called Phase-2.

What causes crooked teeth?

Crowded teeth, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, premature loss of baby teeth, a poor breathing airway caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils can all contribute to poor tooth positioning. And then there are the hereditary factors. Extra teeth, large teeth, missing teeth, wide spacing, small jaws – all can be causes of crowded teeth.

How do teeth move?

Tooth movement is a natural response to light pressure over a period of time. Pressure is applied by using a variety of orthodontic hardware (appliances), the most common being a brace or bracket attached to the teeth and connected by an arch wire. Periodic changing of these arch wires puts pressure on the teeth. At different stages of treatment your child may wear, elastics, an appliance or a retainer. Most orthodontic appointments are scheduled 8-10 weeks apart to give the teeth time to move.

Will it hurt?

The days of having your braces ‘’tightened” are over. The Damon system ensures greater comfort throughout treatment. This system uses far lighter forces to move the teeth to their correct positions. Many people wearing the Damon system experience very little discomfort during treatment.