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Are braces used in early treatment?

When a child has early treatment (while most baby teeth are present), the type of treatment varies based on the kind of problem a child needs corrected. The goal of early treatment is to create a better environment for permanent teeth as they come in. Not all orthodontic treatment is accomplished with braces. 

For some patients, early treatment could consist of removal of a stubborn baby tooth, so that the succeeding permanent tooth can arrive in its proper place. Some patients may need help with how to position their tongue when they swallow, while others may need intervention to stop a thumb- or finger-sucking habit. These are sometimes treated with habit appliances. If a child’s upper jaw is too narrow, so that the permanent teeth do not have room to come in, treatment could consist of a palate expander to widen the jaw. Braces are often recommended to optimize tooth and jaw alignment after most or all of the permanent teeth are in. 

Your AAO orthodontist makes use of the full range of orthodontic appliances and will recommend the type of treatment he/she believes is best suited to your child and correcting his/her orthodontic problem

Will my child need early treatment?

Only a few orthodontic problems need correction while a child has baby teeth. In the event that a problem is detected, chances are your orthodontist will take a “wait-and-see” approach, and will check your child’s growth and development periodically. When the time is right for your child, orthodontic treatment can be

How much does a check-up cost?

Most AAO orthodontists offer examinations at no (or low) cost, and at no obligation.

What will I learn at an early check-up?

In general, an examination would reveal if your child has an existing orthodontic problem, or if one is developing. You could also learn that no problems are present at this time.

Will the orthodontist tell our dentist about this visit?

Yes. The orthodontist will communicate the results of this visit with your child’s dentist, including recommended next steps, if any. However, if you prefer that the dentist not be informed, the orthodontist will comply with your wishes.

Is there anything else I should expect on a first visit?

Yes. The orthodontist or a staff member may take photographs of your child’s teeth and face. This can be valuable documentation referred to at subsequent visits.

Are x-rays really necessary?

Yes. In order for the orthodontist to be able to accurately diagnose your child’s orthodontic problem, x-rays are necessary. They reveal what could otherwise only be guessed.

Today’s x-ray machines require significantly less radiation to obtain an image, as compared to x-ray machines of a generation ago.

An accurate diagnosis allows your orthodontist to plan every step of your child’s treatment so that your child finishes treatment with a healthy bite – referring to the way upper and lower teeth meet and work together. Teeth in a healthy bite are also straight, making for a beautiful smile.

Will the orthodontist take x-rays?

A special x-ray called a “panoramic” x-ray, may be taken at a first exam, or may be postponed until closer to the time that its recommended treatment begins.

What if my child has special needs?

When you make the appointment for the first visit, be sure to inform the person who makes your appointment if your child has special needs, and explain what the needs are. This way, the doctor and staff can prepare for your child’s visit and make it as pleasant and comfortable for him/her as possible. If your child’s special needs are such that the doctor is unable to  accommodate your child, you will be informed when making the appointment. The orthodontist may be able to provide a suggestion to a colleague who would be able to accommodate your child’s special needs.

What happens if an orthodontic problem is found during this visit?

The orthodontist will talk to you about when it will be most advantageous for your child to begin treatment, and the type of treatment that is recommended. For some children, early intervention (while some baby teeth are present) may be in their best interests. Different people have different kinds of problems, so other children may get the greatest benefit from treatment by waiting until most or all of the permanent teeth are in. Everything depends upon the individual and what is best for them.

If the orthodontist recommends a “wait and see” approach, your child’s growth and development will be assessed periodically, and treatment can be timed to take advantage of predictable stages of growth. For some patients, the orthodontist will be able to achieve treatment results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.