Orthodontics for Children

Online Dental Education Library

Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.

Life with Braces
Life with Braces

Brushing and Flossing
Brushing and Flossing Ortho

Even though you are careful, you may occasionally damage your appliances. Wires and brackets can become loose or break. Typically, this is not an emergency situation. If the patient is not in discomfort, you can call the office and make an appointment to come in when it is convenient. If the patient is in pain, please call for an immediate emergency appointment.

We want our patients to be informed of problems that may occur and understand how to solve them, at least temporarily, until it is possible to return to our office.

Loose Bracket
If a bracket comes loose from the tooth, call our office so we can determine if an emergency appointment is indicated. If the patient is comfortable and if it will not cause any problems or delay in treatment, additional time can be allowed to reattach the bracket at the next regularly scheduled appointment. If it is causing discomfort, we will schedule an immediate emergency appointment. If the loose bracket is still attached to a wire, leave it in place and apply wax to keep it from moving on the wire if it is bothersome. If the bracket comes completely out, place it in an envelope and bring it to your next appointment.

Broken Archwire
If a main archwire breaks (the one that goes all the way around the outside of your braces), you should leave it in if it is not uncomfortable and seems stable. If it is bothering you, you can do whatever it takes to make it more comfortable until you can visit the office to have the wire replaced. You can try such things as removing the offending piece, clipping an irritating piece with a small wire cutter or nail clipper, tucking the wire under a bracket, etc. Use wax as needed and call our office for an appointment.

Loose Wire
Try to place the wire back in the bracket. Place wax if there is any discomfort and call for an appointment.

Poking Wire
Sometimes a poking wire can be safely turned down so that it no longer causes you discomfort. Try to tuck the wire back in and out of the way with the blunt end of a toothbrush, pencil eraser or some other smooth object. If you are unable to take care of a poking wire, apply wax and call our office for an appointment.

Periodic soreness of the teeth or surrounding tissues during treatment is to be expected. If you experience this normal discomfort, it can usually be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt water solution (one teaspoonful of salt in a cup of warm water). A mild over-the-counter pain reliever (Motrin, Tylenol, etc.) can be taken as directed.

Lost or Broken Retainers
Contact our office as soon as possible to arrange for repair or replacement of the retainer. If the retainer is cracked or has a broken wire but still fits comfortably, you should continue to wear it until you can bring it in for repair or replacement. If, for example, you break or lose your upper retainer, make sure you continue to wear your lower retainer (or vice versa), as this will help reduce the shifting potential of the teeth until you can be seen in our office.

Accidents Involving Teeth
For serious mouth injuries, the patient should initially be seen as soon as possible at the emergency room or by his/her family dentist. Once the initial trauma has been resolved, contact our office for an emergency appointment so we can repair any damage to the appliances and evaluate the affected teeth.

Please Remember
If you are involved with contact sports, we recommend you use a mouthguard. Use only an orthodontic mouthguard (not one you boil and adapt). We will be happy to supply you with one and they are also available wherever mouthguards are sold.

Our office is generally open Monday through Thursday. We can usually get you in to repair a problem quickly. In some instances, we will make you comfortable and then schedule another appointment at a later date if more involved treatment is necessary to remedy the problem. In case of an after-hours emergency, call our office and follow the instructions on the answering machine.


Malocclusions are fairly common in children (as well as adults). While some malocclusions are so minor that no treatment would provide a demonstrable benefit, serious malocclusions may require intervention in the form of appliances such as braces.

For this reason, regular dental checkups are critical because they provide an opportunity for a dental professional to spot small problems before they become big ones. During a routine exam, your dentist may be able to determine if the child's jaws are growing properly and at the same rate.

If your child has any of the following symptoms, a more detailed orthodontic exam may be called for:
  • "Loose" jaws that can be easily shifted around or make popping noises when opening or closing
  • Abnormal bite relationship (teeth that don?t match up well when biting)
  • Baby teeth that are lost too early or too late
  • Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
  • Breathing through the mouth excessively (instead of through the nose)
  • Disproportionate teeth or jaws
  • Problems with biting down or chewing food
  • Teeth that have become crowded, knocked out or in the wrong place
  • Thumb-sucking or finger-sucking
Benefits of early treatment in children

Here are just some of the benefits of catching problems early:
  • Avoiding impacted teeth
  • Avoiding more costly and lengthy orthodontic treatments in later life
  • Avoiding soft tissue and palate injuries from protruding teeth
  • Bad habits like thumb- or finger- sucking can be corrected
  • Correcting breathing, speaking, swallowing or eating problems
  • Creating space for newly erupting or future erupting teeth
  • Erupting teeth and jaws can be gently glided into their correct positions
About early extractions

Extracting a tooth (either primary of permanent) before its time can sometimes do more harm than good.

There are reasonable instances, and good cause, however, for extracting teeth early in a child.

Common justifications for an early tooth extraction include preserving space for other incoming teeth to avoid crowding and possible impacted teeth later on, or to clear an obstructed tooth that is preventing a jaw from forming correctly.

As your child grows

Orthodontists employ a wide variety of "growth modification" techniques to help nature correct problems as your child grows.

Orthodontic appliances can do wonders as your child develops. For example, an appliance may stave off problems with an upper or lower jaw that isn't growing at the same rate as the other, or correct problems that are creating difficulties with chewing or swallowing.

Whatever the cause, orthodontic treatment during your child's development will reap substantial dividends in adult life, including avoidance of possible surgery, improved oral health and improved self-esteem.

Typically, children between the ages of 10 (usually girls) and 12 (usually boys) benefit greatly from procedures designed to correct jaw length and width problems.

Keep in mind that orthodontic treatment involves a firm commitment from the child, as well as the parent. The kinds of changes such treatment is designed for sometimes take years to fully realize their benefit. Also bear in mind that even the most dedicated commitment is no guarantee of permanent results. Nature sometimes has a way of taking over, and in limited cases, relapses can occur later on.