Although orthodontics are most commonly associated with teens, they can benefit patients of every age, even young children. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic evaluation by around the age of 7. At this age, your child will still have baby teeth and a developing mouth, allowing us to thoroughly evaluate the front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. This will give us the chance to address any potential issues in the earliest stages, before they’re able to grow into something more serious.
This kind of preventative treatment, also called interceptive, early, or Phase One orthodontic treatment, can help prevent any negative impact on your child’s future permanent teeth, as well as their developing jaws. At Coppe + Sears, we see many young patients, and the ability to diagnose and treat issues before they have the chance to turn into something more serious can make a truly positive difference to their overall oral health, in both the short-term and as they continue to grow.
Who is eligible for early orthodontic treatment?
When you bring your child in for an evaluation with us, we’ll be looking out for several indicators that early orthodontic treatment would be beneficial. These include issues such as:
- early or late loss of baby teeth
- difficulty with chewing or biting
- mouth breathing.
- prolonged thumb or finger sucking
- crowded, spaced out, or misaligned teeth
- jaws that shift or pop
- frequent biting of the inside of the mouth
- teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
- jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face
- speech impediments
What are the benefits of early orthodontic treatment?
Most children have lost all their baby teeth by the time they’re entering their teens, and by the end of those teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Any orthodontic procedures that are performed after this point will tend to be more intensive, and can sometimes involve serious procedures, like tooth extraction or oral surgery. Ensuring your child receives early orthodontic treatment can help prevent the need for further orthodontics in adulthood, reducing the need for extractions or surgery in the future.
More specific benefits include:
- guided growth of the jaw during growth spurts
- regulation of the width of the upper and lower dental arches
- permanent teeth being guided into desirable positions as they begin erupting
- decreased risk of injury to front teeth
- the correction of harmful oral habits, such as prolonged thumb or finger sucking
- reducing or eliminating abnormal swallowing or speech problems
- improved appearance and increased self-esteem
- possibly simplifying or shortening treatment time for any future orthodontics
- reduced likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
- reduced or increased space for permanent teeth that are erupting
Though there are some treatments will require all the permanent teeth to be in place before proceeding, interceptive treatment like these early orthodontic evaluations can make comprehensive treatment for your child faster and better!
Your child’s initial orthodontic screening
Along with the American Association of Orthodontists, we support the recommendation that children receive their first orthodontic screening by the age of 7. At Coppe + Sears, we are able to evaluate your child at every routine examination. By starting these evaluations early, we’re able to recognize any potential problems early, and often correct them before they require major intervention and treatment.
During your child’s examination, we’ll be able to determine if there are any problems that need attention, such as potential crowding, an open bite, overbite, or gummy smile. Not every child will need immediate treatment, or even any treatment at all! However, if treatment is indicated for your child, we’ll create a personalized treatment plan for your child based on their specific needs.
To find out if your child is a candidate for early orthodontic treatment, contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation.
With most permanent teeth in place, the teen years are the most common time for orthodontic treatment. Frequently started between the ages of 11 and 15, the bone and jaw structure are generally formed enough to allow orthodontic treatment to begin. Additionally, issues with spacing, crowding, bite, and alignment are easy to detect within this age range.
If your teen had Phase I treatment at an earlier age, this may be the time to follow it up with braces or other orthodontic treatment. For teens who are new to Coppe + Sears, we recommend a complimentary consultation. We’ll look for any indications that they may benefit from orthodontic treatment, including:
- early, late, or irregular loss of the baby teeth
- difficulty chewing or biting
- crowding or extra spacing between teeth
- jaws that shift or make sounds
- frequent biting of the cheek or the inside of the mouth
- teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
- jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face
- protrusion of teeth
Adolescent treatment options
There are a wide range of orthodontic treatment options available for teen patients today. In developing a customized treatment plan for your teen, we may recommend the use of an orthodontic appliance. The chosen appliance will generally depend on their specific dental needs and goals. Some of the most common treatments offered are:
By far the most well-known and popular orthodontic appliance, traditional metal braces have been around for a very long time, a testament to their efficiency and longevity. Modern braces are smaller, sleeker, and far more comfortable than they’ve ever been before. They’re also easy to customize by choosing from many different colors of elastic ties, allowing your teen to show their personality off through their orthodontics.
Sometimes referred to as clear braces, these work in the same way metal braces do, but instead of metal, use brackets made of tooth-colored ceramic materials which blend in with your teen’s own smile. These can be combined with more neutral colored ties for an even less obvious look.
Damon braces are also very similar to traditional metal braces, but rather than ties, they work via a sliding-door technology that’s commonly known as “self-ligation.” This allows the wire of your braces to slide back and forth within the bracket to provide less friction, greater comfort, and the same effective treatment.
This system is made up of a series of fully customized, clear trays called aligners that are nearly invisible and completely removable. Made of a soft plastic material, they provide a more comfortable fit over the teeth, with no friction or abrasions inside the mouth. Each aligner is changed out weekly for the next in the set. When worn the recommended 20-22 hours per day, your teen’s teeth will gradually shift into the desired positions. Invisalign works best with mild to moderate orthodontic issues.
How long will adolescent treatment take?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that, unfortunately! Since every case is different, treatment time will vary, but on average, the active stage of orthodontic treatment can last anywhere from 6-36 months. After this phase of treatment is complete, your teen will need to wear a retainer to keep their newly straightened smile in place.
The benefits of adolescent orthodontic treatment
The rapid changes an adolescent experiences physically during puberty is a benefit when it comes to orthodontics. By utilizing the frequent growth spurts, we can rework bad bites and teeth arrangements while also potentially shortening the overall treatment time. Your teen’s fast metabolism can also help reduce the pain or discomfort sometimes associated with orthodontics.
Diagnosing and successfully treating certain bite problems can also have benefits. Problems classified as “bad bites” can often be lessened with the proper orthodontic treatment, including:
- crooked or crowded teeth
- missing or extra teeth
- overbite or underbite
- incorrect jaw position
- any disorders of the jaw joint
Straight, well-aligned teeth that have responded well to orthodontic treatment have many benefits, including:
- less prone to wear, chipping, and tooth trauma
- easier to keep clean, helping to prevent tooth decay and cavities
- less chances of developing gum disease, which can result in bone loss, decay, and tooth loss
- improving proper chewing and digestion of food
Investing in adolescent orthodontic treatment
By scheduling a free consultation with Coppe + Sears, you’ll be investing in your teen’s smile! While adults can successfully complete orthodontic treatment, teenagers will often respond more quickly to orthodontic treatment, shortening their total treatment time. We’re happy to discuss the benefits of treatment with both you and your teen.
Brushing and Flossing with Braces
Maintaining excellent oral health habits is always encouraged, but even more so when you’re in braces. However, the brackets and wires can sometimes make brushing and flossing thoroughly a challenge. As a pediatric dental and orthodontic practice, it’s twice as important to our team here at Coppe + Sears that your teeth stay clean and healthy throughout your treatment process!
Good dental hygiene is critical during orthodontic treatment. Without it, plaque and food can accumulate around your braces, forming bacteria and eventually leading to cavities, or in extreme cases, even gum disease. If plaque accumulates around your braces, it can leave unsightly permanent stains on your teeth called decalcification. Periodontal disease is caused by a build up of this same plaque.
Even though early gum disease is reversible with professional help and careful attention at home, it can get worse if it’s ignored. By taking good care of your braces, you can avoid complications. It may require a little extra work on your part to keep your braces squeaky clean, but as with anything, practice makes perfect. By understanding the best way to brush with braces, and developing a good oral hygiene routine, you’ll be able to complete your treatment with straight, healthy teeth.
The best way to brush and floss with braces
- Brush your teeth thoroughly 3-4 times a day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after meals and before bed. Pay close attention to the areas between your brackets and your gums, carefully cleaning between the wires and your teeth. Brush for at least two minutes each time, placing the tips of the bristles flat against your teeth, and gently using small circular motions.
- Use a soft orthodontic toothbrush, or an electric toothbrush with a soft bristled head. Interdental brushes can also be used to fit in between the wires and the teeth and remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris. A mouthwash containing fluoride can be used in addition to regular brushing and flossing to help strengthen the enamel on your teeth.
- Flossing is an essential part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums, and you should be aiming to do it at least once per day. Flossing regularly is even more important when you’re wearing braces because it’s easy for food particles to get stuck in the tiny crevices around the brackets and even in your gums.
- A floss threader is a tool designed to help make flossing with braces easier. It’s a little bit like a threading needle — you pull one end of the floss through the threader, feed the threader under the archwire, then grab the floss on each end and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums.
- Oral irrigators like a Waterpik can also be used in addition to regular brushing and flossing. These instruments are able to shoot small, high-pressure streams of water onto the teeth, removing food debris and plaque from between your teeth and braces.
Keep your smile bright
Although brushing and flossing may be slightly more involved when you’re maneuvering around metal brackets and wires, Coppe + Sears is dedicated to giving your oral health the importance it deserves. We offer free evaluations, so if you’re looking for information on how to care for your smile — or how to encourage your child or teen to care for theirs! — get in touch with us today.