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Braces and Invisalign® for kids

Childhood treatments may prevent future dental issues

Establishing a good oral hygiene routine with your children is an important step in having a beautiful smile, healthy teeth and gums, and preventing future problems. A major part of this routine is scheduling your child’s first orthodontic consultation while their teeth are still developing.

The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that children have an orthodontic consultation no later than the age of seven. This enables us to identify any potential problems that may affect your child in their teenage and adult years. We’ll be able to provide early treatments that could eliminate the need for braces and more severe solutions in the future.

The most common orthodontic and growth problems that benefit from early treatment procedures are:

  • Crowding
  • Severe overbite (deep) bites
  • Dysfunctional habits (thumb or finger sucking)
  • Narrow jaws and a poor airway

Our Orthodontic Specialists have years of experience treating young patients, and we will carefully match your child with the most appropriate treatment plan, such as traditional, braces or Invisalign® First, which is a nearly invisible solution made specifically for kids.

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Early treatment

Invisalign® First

Invisalign® First is the latest in childhood orthodontic innovations. It serves as a preparatory treatment we can use on developing teeth before your child needs longer-lasting orthodontics. Using a clear plastic tray, or aligner, we can encourage the gradual expansion of your child’s jawline, leaving room for all their teeth to fill in and reducing or even eliminating problems in the future.

Our 2-step orthodontic approach for kids

If your child does need treatment it will usually occur over two phases.

The first phase of active orthodontic treatment lasts approximately six to fifteen months and occurs when permanent and baby teeth are present. The corrections made in the first phase are retained with fixed space maintainers, Hawley bite plates or other removable retainers.

At this point, our young patients are then placed in our growth evaluation program. This is included in the Phase 1 fee which comprises quarterly office visits along with periodic panoramic x-rays and photographs.

Phase two, or comprehensive treatment, is started once all the permanent teeth are in place. A second phase is generally needed in 75% of the patients to finalize all the tooth positions and the bite.

Although the two-phase treatment program does appear to be more involved, in reality, it is a much more effective way to treat the problems that are present at an early age. By expanding the jaws you eliminate airway problems, eliminate the need for extractions of permanent teeth and potential jaw surgery. Additionally, this can actually shorten the time your child needs to wear braces.

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Early treatment

Expanders and Invisalign®

While Invisalign® treatments and braces will straighten your child’s teeth, sometimes we need to create a bit more room for his or her teeth to move and grow in the ideal position. In those situations, we may recommend a removable expander before fitting your child with their Invisalign® clear aligners.

An expander is an appliance that sits across the top of your child’s mouth, applying gentle pressure to widen the jaw. It comes with a small key that is twisted to encourage expansion. You will need to help your child with this between appointments, but we will walk you through the exact steps to ensure that you feel confident about the care your child is getting.

Once your child’s jaw has been expanded, there will be plenty of room for their teeth. We’ll then create their custom Invisalign® clear aligners to help encourage the ideal growth and placement.

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Common FAQs about braces for kids

Phase one treatment usually starts while the child has most of his/her baby teeth and a few of his/her permanent teeth. This stage in development is usually about the age of seven.

Phase two treatment usually occurs a number of years later. Usually we are waiting for 12-16 more permanent teeth to erupt before Phase two begins. This most commonly occurs at the age of 12 or 13 and the goal is to achieve an ideal bite, giving your child a beautiful smile that will last into their adult years.

This is another name for orthodontic treatment in the permanent dentition at any age. It is more commonly used when a Phase one treatment was not performed and includes both braces and Invisalign® solutions.

Absolutely not! Only certain bites require early intervention. That’s why it’s important to schedule an early consultation. We can recommend whether your child needs this early care.

If not, they can wait until most, if not all, their permanent teeth erupt. If your child does not need Phase one treatment we will continue to monitor his/her dental and jaw growth at regular complimentary appointments until all of his/her permanent teeth have come in.

This is not recommended. If your child needs Phase one treatment, this usually means that he/she has a difficult problem that requires attention now. If no orthodontic action is taken, treatment may include extractions, oral surgery, increased time and costs in the future.

Extraction therapy (also known as serial extractions) is a technique where some teeth are removed to make room for the other teeth in your child’s mouth. Depending on your child’s situation, we may recommend that as many as eight teeth (baby and permanent) be removed.

Non-extraction therapy is where we work to expand a young patient’s jaw or shape some existing teeth to make everything fit correctly. As non-extraction doctors, Cater and Galante prefer this method when it comes to your child’s smile.