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

 

Orthodontic emergencies.At first, having orthodontic treatment may take a little getting used to. It isn't uncommon to experience a bit of soreness when appliances are first put on, or some minor aches as teeth begin moving into new positions. Yet it's comforting to know that genuine orthodontic emergencies are rare.

If you think you may have an emergency, however, the first step is to determine the severity of the problem: Is it an urgent situation that requires immediate attention, or a minor problem that you can take care of yourself, temporarily, until you can come in to the office?

A Major Emergency

There are only a few true orthodontic (or dental) emergencies. They include:

  • Trauma or injury to the teeth, face or mouth
  • Infection or swelling of the gums, mouth or face
  • Severe, unmanageable discomfort or pain in these areas

In any of these situations, you should seek help as soon as possible — go to an emergency room, if that's your best option. Generally, however, the place to start is at the dental office. If, for example, you have a fractured tooth, that immediate problem requires diagnosis and treatment. Afterwards your orthodontic treatment plan can be adjusted as needed. Likewise, severe pain or swelling could be a sign of infection or disease, which also needs immediate treatment.

Some Minor Troubles

Fortunately, the vast majority of orthodontic problems are minor compared to these situations — but they may still cause discomfort or irritation. In general, it's best to try and soothe the immediate cause of the discomfort, and then call for an appointment. Here are a few of the more common orthodontic problems, along with some tips on what you can do to relieve them at home:

Loose or broken brackets, bands or wires
This problem is often caused by eating hard or sticky candy or food, or playing with the braces. If the band or bracket is still attached to the wire, leave it as is — but don't connect any elastics to it! You can cover it with orthodontic wax if it's irritating the inside of your mouth. If it has come off, save it. In either case, call our office to let us know what happened, and we will recommend the next step.

Misplaced or poking archwire, bracket or tie
As the teeth start to move, the wire that connects them (archwire) may begin poking near the back of the mouth or irritating the cheeks. You can try moving the wire into a better position with a pencil eraser or a Q-Tip. If the wire won't move, you may be able to cut the end off with a nail clipper sterilized in alcohol — but before doing so, please call for guidance or instructions. Often, you can also use tweezers to gently move a misplaced wire or a tie that's causing problems.

When wires or brackets cause irritation, covering the metal parts with wax will often help ease the discomfort. As with any of these types of problems, it's best to make an appointment so it can be taken care of.

General tooth pain or loosening
It's normal for teeth to become slightly loosened during orthodontic treatment — that shows they're moving! Sometimes, this movement may be accompanied by tenderness, especially after braces are placed or adjusted. For minor soreness, you can use your regular over-the-counter pain reliever. A twice-a-day salt-water rinse may also help: Mix one teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water, and rinse for 30 seconds. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw can also offer some relief.

While actual emergencies are rare, the goal is to make orthodontic treatment as comfortable as possible.