Orthodontic treatment in young children can begin as early as ages six or seven. When children are this young, their teeth are still developing and the jaw is still growing. Tooth and jaw problems can be caused by tooth decay, losing baby teeth too soon, accidents, or habits like thumb sucking. These problems can also be genetic or inherited Not only that, but orthodontists are able to detect subtle issues in tooth and jaw development even while baby teeth are still present. Moreover, the younger the patient is, that conditions may be easier to treat. When visiting for the first time, the office may look similar to that of a regular dentist. There are, however, several key differences.
Your first trip to the orthodontist is done in order for you to get acquainted with the office and their philosophy and to determine if treatment is needed. That means that the patient, be it you or your child, will be given a thorough clinical examination. This includes photographs and x-rays of the teeth and mouth and an impression of the teeth will be taken in order to help determine an individualized treatment plan. You will also be asked to open wide and then bite your teeth together.
Next, any recommended appliances, including retainers, braces, or expanders, will be described in detail and you will also receive an estimate as to the length of time the treatment will take as well as the frequency of appointments. This consultation generally takes between one to two hours. Cost and payment options will also be discussed.
If you choose to go ahead with treatment, your next appointment will be run about two hours. At that point, the doctor and his or her assistant will place any appliances in your mount and answer all your questions. In addition, he or she will walk you through the entire process from beginning to end. The orthodontist’s assistant is in charge of prepping your teeth for the brackets and then your orthodontist will carefully position each one on your teeth.
Throughout your treatment, you will have scheduled checks which are brief appointments wherein your orthodontist will adjust your brackets, answer any questions and check the progress that your teeth are making. These appointments generally take about 20 minutes and occur approximately every nine weeks throughout your treatment. However, if you have if you have Invisalign treatment, then these checks will happen once a month.
When it is time to have your braces removed, a “debanding” appointment will be made. You will then have to make an appointment with your regular dentist for a good cleaning, check-up, and fluoride treatment following the removal of your braces. Additionally, some patients opt for teeth whitening at this point, as well. The removal process takes about an hour and a half. You will also be given a set of retainers to hold your teeth in position. You will have to wear them for as long as you want your teeth to stay straight.