What is Children's Orthodontics?

Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics is the formal name of the dental specialty concerned with the diagnosis, prevention, interception, guidance and correction of bad bites. The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to create a healthy bite—straight teeth that properly meet opposing teeth in the opposite jaw. A good bite makes it easier for you to bite, chew and speak.


When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

There's no set age for a child's first orthodontist visit — some kids go when they're 6, some kids go when they're 10, and some go while they're teens. Even adults can need orthodontic treatment. Many orthodontists say kids should see an orthodontist once their permanent teeth start coming in, around age 7.

If your child's teeth are crowded, protrusive, spaced too far apart, meet in an abnormal way, or do not meet at all, correction may be recommended. Braces and aligners are the “appliances” orthodontists most commonly use to guide your teeth into their proper positions. Retainers preserve and stabilize the results of your orthodontic treatment.

Benefits of Orthodontic Care

There are several benefits your children can gain from early developmental orthodontic treatment. Addressing problems sooner can prevent them from becoming worse, as well as prevent other issues from developing as they get older. Other benefits of early treatment include:

  • Reduce the likelihood of having to extract permanent teeth later

  • Help prevent teeth from shifting and becoming crooked

  • Address current issues with crooked and overcrowded teeth

  • Monitor jaw growth and guide its development

  • Reduce the likelihood of permanent teeth not growing in straight

  • Address issues with gaps in between permanent teeth

  • Help children with concerns over the appearance of their smiles

Aside from the aesthetic benefits of early developmental treatment, correcting problems can also help improve speech patterns and the ability to speak clearly and make eating different types of food easier. Furthermore, early treatment will help your children adjust easier to wearing braces once they are ready for this part of their treatment.

What Happens at the Orthodontist?

At your child's first visit to the orthodontist, it will be a lot like a regular dental visit. Your child will sit in a dentist chair and Dr. Abarca or assistant might take X-rays or computer pictures of your mouth and teeth. The X-rays and pictures show the Dr. Abarca where the teeth are positioned and whether your child has teeth that haven't come in yet.

Dr. Abarca may also make a mold (or impression) of your child's teeth by pressing a tray of gooey material into your top and bottom teeth. When the mold is removed, there will be a perfect impression of the shape and size of your child's teeth. A mold helps the him decide how to straighten your teeth.

Dr. Abarca will examine your teeth, mouth, and jaws. He may ask your child to open wide or bite their teeth together and might ask about whether your child has problems chewing or swallowing or whether their jaws ever click or pop when opening their mouth.