Skip to content

Orthodontists Offer Timely Advice for Parents of Children and Teens


Orthodontists Offer Timely Advice for Parents of Children and Teens 

ST. LOUIS, October 3, 2022 — October is National Orthodontic Health Month. The observance is in part a celebration of healthy, beautiful smiles and the benefits of orthodontic treatment – but also, an opportunity to focus on the importance of good oral health, especially for orthodontic patients and those who are interested in treatment.

In conjunction with this observance, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and individual AAO members will provide updates and reminders for parents of young orthodontic patients and those who may need treatment. For parents, key points to consider include:

● Determine whether your young child may need orthodontic treatment in the future: The AAO recommends that all children receive an orthodontic check-up by age 7.

Many orthodontists will provide an evaluation of your child’s teeth and bite at no cost, with no dental referral required. Why have a child at this age examined by an orthodontist? Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. If an orthodontist identifies a developing problem, he or she may recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then, if indicated, begin treatment at the appropriate time.

In other cases, a child may be a good candidate for early intervention such as palatal expansion, which can make the upper jaw wider and help reduce crowding in abnormally narrow arches. Palatal expansion is ideally completed while a child is still growing. In younger patients, it may reduce the need for extractions or prevent impacted teeth.

Learn more at the AAO blog post, “Orthodontic Treatment May Help You Avoid Costly Treatments.

● If orthodontic treatment is likely in your child’s future, consult with your orthodontist on payment planning.

A recent survey of AAO member orthodontists showed the vast majority of them allow patients to pay for treatment through interest-free monthly payments. Results showed 97% of AAO member respondents offer payment plans, with 90% of those offering plans not including financing fees or charging interest.

In advance of treatment, orthodontic offices can typically help with reviewing family dental insurance coverage and identifying how much of the treatment fee will be covered by insurance, and how much parents would need to pay out-of-pocket.

A recommended option: Check with your employer about whether Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are available through your job. Offered by many employers, these tax-deferred accounts can be used to accumulate annual savings that may be used to pay for orthodontic treatment and will help reduce out-of-pocket costs. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) may also be helpful.

Learn more at the AAO blog post, Plan Now, Save Throughout the Year.

● Is your child currently in orthodontic treatment? At Halloween, be aware that some treats can “bite back” when someone is wearing braces.

Those wearing braces should avoid sticky, chewy and hard treats such a caramels, taffy, jellybeans, bubblegum, hard candy, licorice and nuts. Orthodontic patients can enjoy chocolate without caramel or nuts, peanut butter cups, marshmallows and soft cookies – with the caveat that brushing and flossing should occur soon after consuming these treats.

Being careful about candy choices at Halloween – and throughout the year – can help patient families avoid unexpected trips to the orthodontist’s office to repair loosened or broken wires or displaced brackets.

Learn more at the AAO blog post, “Celebrate Halloween with the Right Kind of Candy.

About the American Association of Orthodontists:

The American Association of Orthodontists represents more than 18,500 orthodontist members throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad. Founded in 1900, AAO is the world’s oldest and largest dental specialty organization. AAO is dedicated to ethically advancing the art and science of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics worldwide; improving the overall oral healthcare of the public; advocating for the health and safety of the public; educating the public about the benefits of orthodontic treatment provided by an orthodontic specialist.

Orthodontists complete two to three years of specialty training, as students in residency programs, following graduation from dental school. This training makes them experts in straightening teeth, aligning bites and creating beautiful, healthy smiles. For more information and to find an AAO member orthodontist, visit

For more information, contact Mindi Brothers, [email protected] or 314-292-6569.

Media Contact

Brynne Cramer, AAO Public Relation Manager, [email protected]