The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children see an orthodontist by at least age seven and sooner if something is obviously wrong before age seven. Fortunately, most young patients don't need anything more than observation while the permanent teeth are growing into place.

Many young patients have problems, which will not, or should not wait. Most orthodontic problems are inherited and cannot be totally prevented; however something can usually be done before these problems become more difficult and more expensive to manage.

It is advisable to consult with an orthodontist prior to having your dentist remove any baby teeth or permanent teeth. To ensure the best overall dental and facial development, all patients should have an orthodontic consultation sometime between the ages of four and seven.

Dr. Bock offers early examinations and observation consultations. Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Classifications of Teeth

The classification of bites is divided into three main categories: Class I, II, and III. This classification refers to the position of the first molars, and how they fit together.

Class I
Class I is a normal relationship between the upper teeth, lower teeth and jaws or balanced bite.


Class I normal



Class I crowding

 

Class I spacing
 

 

Class II
Class II is where the lower first molar is posterior (or more towards the back of the mouth) than the upper first molar. In this abnormal relationship, the upper front teeth and jaw project further forward than the lower teeth and jaw. There is a convex appearance in profile with a receding chin and lower lip. Class II problems can be due to insufficient growth of the lower jaw, an over growth of the upper jaw or a combination of the two. In many cases, Class II problems are genetically inherited and can be aggravated by environmental factors such as finger sucking. Class II problems are treated via growth redirection to bring the upper teeth, lower teeth and jaws into harmony.

 

 
Class II division 1

 
 
Class II division 2

 

 

Class III
Class III is where the lower first molar is anterior (or more towards the front of the mouth) than the upper first molar. In this abnormal relationship, the lower teeth and jaw project further forward than the upper teeth and jaws. There is a concave appearance in profile with a prominent chin. Class III problems are usually due to an overgrowth in the lower jaw, undergrowth of the upper jaw or a combination of the two. Like Class II problems, they can be genetically inherited. Class III problems are usually treated via surgical correction of one or both jaws.

 
Class III functional or dental

 
 
Class III skeletal

 

 

Orthodontic Problems

 
Overjet
Upper front teeth protrude


 
 
Deep bite
Upper front teeth cover lower front teeth too much

 
 
Underbite
Lower front teeth protrude


 
 
Open bite
Back teeth are together with space between the front teeth


 

Crowding
Upper and/or lower teeth are crowded


 

Excess Spacing
There is excess space between teeth


 

Mid-Line Misalignment
Mid-lines of upper and lower arches do not line up

 

Crossbite
Upper back teeth fit inside lower teeth

Phases of Treatment

Phase I: Treatment usually takes 12 to 18 months and is done between the ages of 7-9. A variety of appliances may be used to correct specific problems.

Maintenance / Recall Phase: During the time between the first and second phase the patient will be seen every few months per year. This is to monitor the eruption of the permanent teeth and exfoliation of primary teeth.

Phase II (if required): During the first phase of treatment Dr. Bock has no control over 16 unerupted permanent teeth. If they grow in and problems still exist, further treatment, known as Phase II, will be required. A separate fee will be quoted at that time. Treatment usually takes 12-24 months.

Full Treatment: If you decide to wait, treatment will be started when all permanent teeth have erupted. Full treatment usually takes 18-30 months. The length of treatment depends on the severity of malocclusion and orthodontic problems.

Proper Braces Care and Brushing Techniques

Brushing and flossing your teeth can be challenging when wearing braces but it is extremely important that you do both consistently and thoroughly.

 
 
 


Foods to Avoid During Treatment: Eating proper foods and minimizing sugar intake are essential during orthodontic treatment. Your braces can be damaged by eating hard, sticky, and chewy foods.

  • Hard foods : Nuts, Candy, Hard Pretzels
  • Crunchy foods : Popcorn, Ice, Chips, etc.
  • Sticky foods : Gum, Chewy Candy (Skittles, Taffy, Gummy Bears, Caramel, etc.)
  • Chewy foods : Bagels, Hard Rolls, etc.
  • Foods you have to bite into : Corn on the Cob, Apples, Carrots (cut these foods up into smaller pieces and chew on back teeth)
  • Chewing on Hard Objects (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

Hard Foods

 

Soft Foods

 

Infants

Infants should be seen by our office after the first six months of age, and at least by the child's first birthday. By this time, the baby's first teeth, or primary teeth, are beginning to erupt and it is a critical time to spot any problems before they become big concerns.

Conditions like gum irritation and thumb-sucking could create problems later on. Babies who suck their thumbs may be setting the stage for malformed teeth and bite relationships.

Another problem that can be spotted early is a condition called "baby bottle tooth decay," which is caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby's mouth.

If left untreated, this can lead to premature decay of your baby's future primary teeth, which can later hamper the proper formation of permanent teeth.

One of the best ways to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is to not allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going to sleep. Avoid dipping pacifiers in sweet substances such as honey, because this only encourages early decay in the baby's mouth. Encouraging your young child to drink from a cup as early as possible will also help stave off the problems associated with baby bottle tooth decay.

Teething, Pacifiers and Thumb-Sucking

Teething is a sign that your child's gums are sore. This is perfectly normal. You can help relieve this by allowing the baby to suck on a teething ring, or gently rubbing your baby's gums with the back of a small spoon, a piece of wet gauze, or even your finger.

For babies under the age of 4, teething rings and pacifiers can be safely used to facilitate the child's oral needs for relieving gum pain and for suckling. After the age of 4, pacifiers are generally discouraged because they may interfere with the development of your child's teeth.

Moreover, thumb-sucking should be strongly discouraged because it can lead to malformed teeth that become crooked and crowded.

Primary and Permanent Teeth

Every child grows 20 primary teeth, usually by the age of 3. These teeth are gradually replaced by the age of 12 or so with a full set of 28 permanent teeth, and later on, four molars called "wisdom teeth."

It is essential that a child's primary teeth are healthy, because their development sets the stage for permanent teeth. If primary teeth become diseased or do not grow in properly, chances are greater that their permanent replacements will suffer the same fate. For example, poorly formed primary teeth that don't erupt properly could crowd out spaces reserved for other teeth. Space maintainers can sometimes be used to correct this condition, if it is spotted early enough.

Brushing

Babies' gums and teeth can be gently cleaned with special infant toothbrushes that fit over your finger. Water is suitable in lieu of toothpaste (because the baby may swallow the toothpaste). Parents are advised to avoid fluoride toothpastes on children under the age of 2.

Primary teeth can be cleansed with child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrushes. Remember to use small portions of toothpaste (a pea-sized portion is suitable), and teach your child to spit out, not swallow, the toothpaste when finished.

Fluoride

Fluoride is generally present in most public drinking water systems. If you are unsure about your community's water and its fluoride content, or learn that it has an unacceptable level of fluoride in it, there are fluoride supplements your dentist can prescribe. Your child may not be getting enough fluoride just by using fluoride toothpaste.

Toothaches

Toothaches can be common in young children. Sometimes, toothaches are caused by erupting teeth, but they also could indicate a serious problem.

You can safely relieve a small child's toothache without the aid of medication by rinsing the mouth with a solution of warm water and table salt. If the pain doesn't subside, acetaminophen may be used. If such medications don't help, contact your dentist immediately.

Injuries

You can help your child prevent oral injuries by closely supervising him during play and not allowing the child to put foreign objects in the mouth.

For younger children involved in physical activities and sports, mouth guards are strongly encouraged, and can prevent a whole host of injuries to the teeth, gums, lips and other oral structures.

Mouth guards are generally small plastic appliances that safely fit around your child's teeth. Many mouth guards are soft and pliable when opened, and mold to the child's teeth when first inserted.

If the tooth has been knocked out, try to place the tooth back in its socket while waiting to see our office.  Remember to hold the dislocated tooth by the crown—not the root. If you cannot relocate the tooth, place it in a container of cold milk, saline or the victim's own saliva. Place the tooth in the solution.

First, rinse the mouth of any blood or other debris and place a cold cloth or compress on the cheek near the injury. This will keep down swelling.

For a fractured tooth, it is best to rinse with warm water and again, apply a cold pack or compress. Ibuprofen may be used to help keep down swelling.

If the tooth fracture is minor, the tooth can be sanded or if necessary, restored by the dentist if the pulp is not severely damaged.

If a child's primary tooth has been loosened by an injury or an emerging permanent tooth, try getting the child to gently bite down on an apple or piece of caramel; in some cases, the tooth will easily separate from the gum.

Irritation caused by retainers or braces can sometimes be relieved by placing a tiny piece of cotton or gauze on the tip of the wire or other protruding object. If an injury occurs from a piece of the retainer or braces lodging into a soft tissue, contact our office immediately and avoid dislodging it yourself.

Sealants

Sealants fill in the little ridges on the chewing part of your teeth to protect and seal the tooth from food and plaque. The application is easy to apply and typically last for several years.