for Kids

We help you make the best decision for your child’s smile, health, and quality of life.

Dr. Dunn and Dr. Schreiber have years of experience caring for young children in early orthodontic treatment! We will only suggest treatment for your child if it’s necessary.

young girl with braces in a meadow

When is the best age to get braces?

The AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) recommends that children first see an orthodontist as early as age 7. Early treatment is most effective for achieving lasting results that can benefit your child for the rest of their life.

This doesn’t mean that orthodontic treatment will begin around age 7. We only suggest the right treatment at the right time for each patient. It’s important to us that we’re honest and transparent with you, and that you and your child feel comfortable starting treatment!

If we determine that orthodontic work is needed, we will monitor your child’s growth patterns until we see that it’s time for treatment to begin. This gives us an opportunity to get the best results in the most efficient way, and to help prevent future problems.

The goal of early orthodontic treatment

Orthodontic treatment isn’t just about ‘straightening teeth’, it’s about establishing a healthy foundation to support a beautiful set of permanent teeth, and setting the stage for a lifetime of confidence!

The goal of early treatment is to develop the jaws to allow the most ideal dental development. By supporting proper growth of the jaw and correcting certain bite concerns (such as an underbite, crossbite or crowding) early on, we can eliminate the need for more complex, lengthy forms of treatment (such as jaw surgery) in the future.

Correcting bad habits

There are some situations where a youngster’s habits can actually influence the development and function of his or her teeth, jaws and mouth. Examples of these include persistent thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing.

Thumbsucking and tongue-thrusting

The sucking reflex is natural in early childhood; it usually disappears before age 1. But if it persists much later, the pressure of the digit on the front teeth and the upper jaw can actually cause the teeth to move apart and the jaws to change shape. This can lead to the orthodontic problem called “open bite,” and may impair speech. An open bite can also be caused by the force of the tongue pushing forward against the teeth (tongue thrusting).

Mouth breathing

Mouth breathing is an abnormal breathing pattern in which the mouth always remains open, passing air directly to the lungs. This is related to alterations in the muscular function of the tongue and face. It may cause the upper and lower jaw to grow abnormally, which can lead to serious orthodontic problems. Although mouth breathing may start from a physical difficulty, it can become a habitual action that’s hard to break.

The solution

Various orthodontic treatments are available to help correct these parafunctional habits (habits that are detrimental to health), and the sooner they’re taken care of, the less damage they may cause. But these potential problems aren’t always easy to recognize. That’s why we encourage you to bring your child in for an early orthodontic screening!

brother an sister posing for a selfie

How do I know if my child needs treatment?

Here are some common signs and symptoms that indicate a need for early orthodontic treatment or braces for kids:

  • Persistent mouth-breathing
  • Thumbsucking or tongue-thrusting habits
  • Early, late or irregular loss of baby teeth
  • Crooked, crowded or gapped teeth
  • Jaw pain or facial pain
  • Jaw shifting, popping or clicking
  • Difficult or pain when chewing or biting
  • Inability to chew food properly
  • Digestive issues caused by improper chewing
  • Lack of self esteem or confidence when smiling
  • An early assessment of your child’s growth will give you the peace of mind that your child is thriving

    Dr. Dunn, Dr. Schreiber and our highly experienced team will provide you and your child with a fun and informative initial exam, and we’ll discuss the best steps to take to support your child in developing a beautiful smile!

    Two-phase early orthodontic treatment

    Early orthodontic treatment is best separated into two phases, designed to work alongside the natural development of the teeth and jaw bones.

    What is Phase 1 treatment?

    Phase 1 orthodontic treatment is typically completed between the ages of 7 and 10. 

    The purpose of this treatment is to prepare the mouth for permanent teeth to emerge in a healthy alignment with a sufficient amount of space.

    During this phase, your child may be treated with a palatal expander appliance to widen the upper jaw and create enough room for permanent teeth to grow. Phase 1 orthodontic treatment focuses on ensuring healthy jaw bone development to establish a strong foundation for the permanent teeth to be aligned in Phase 2.

    What is Phase 2 treatment?

    This phase generally begins in the early teen years, when all of the permanent teeth have erupted. 

    The focus of Phase 2 treatment is to align the teeth and jaws to create a harmonious facial appearance. During this phase, a full treatment of braces or Invisalign® First is often completed. Both the top and bottom teeth are typically treated in Phase 2.

    Every child develops at a different rate, so early orthodontic treatment for your child  may be optimal at an earlier or later stage than average. At your complimentary consultation, we’ll help you determine the right path for your child.

    We’re here for you!

    Getting started is easy!

    Let’s make the smile of your dreams a reality. New patients receive a free consultation!

    Take the first step today by requesting your complimentary consultation with Just for Grins Orthodontics in Montgomery, Millbrook and Wetumpka.

    Getting started is easy!

    Let’s make the smile of your dreams a reality. New patients receive a free consultation!

    Take the first step today by requesting your complimentary consultation with Just for Grins Orthodontics in Montgomery, Millbrook and Wetumpka.