Child Ortho FAQs

Q. When is a good time to see the Orthodontist?

In many instances, monitoring a child through their growing stages allows the orthodontist to determine the least invasive times of treatment.

Age 7 is a good time to start monitoring jaw growth and tooth eruption. Their first permanent teeth, the 1st molars, generally start to erupt around age 6. At this point, it is a good idea to evaluate the relationship between a child’s jaws as well as eruption of their teeth.

Early treatment (Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine. Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older.

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam where we can discuss the needs of your child and begin to take the best steps to take toward caring for your child’s smile.

Q. What causes orthodontic problems?

Like most developmental problems, their source can be attributed to our genes as well as our environment. They can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits.

Q. Why do we need a Phase 1?

The upper and lower jaws grow at different rates and teeth erupt at different times. Due to the complexity in this relationship, problems may arise years before eruption of all adult teeth. Underbites, crossbites, tooth impaction, and severe crowding are examples of problems that may require earlier interceptive treatment.

Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13. By their late teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, which leaves little to no potential for extraction or surgery in the future.

Q. What are signs that my child may need Phase 1?
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Unusual habits such as thumb or finger sucking
  • Crowded front teeth after age 7
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Protruding teeth
  • Teeth that don’t come together normally or even at all
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth
  • Underbites where the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth
Q. What comes after Phase 1 treatment?

After Phase 1, a resting period follows where we monitor the progress of your child’s teeth and facial growth. Periodic visits at least every 6 months are important.

At this stage, the remaining permanent teeth are allowed to erupt on their own. A retainer is given to the child to wear only at night and is regularly adjusted as more teeth come into the mouth.

Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.

Final alignment of the teeth and bite are accomplished in the second phase of treatment, Phase 2.

Q. What are final goals of orthodontic treatment?

The goals of one-phase orthodontics or Phase 2 (of two-phase orthodontics) are the same: A healthy bite and an attractive smile.

The goal of the final phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. This usually requires full upper and lower braces. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure the patient maintains the new, beautiful smile.