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Grand Prairie: (972) 660-5522

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When should my child start with braces?

Many parents have the same questions about pursuing orthodontic treatment. What is the best age to see the orthodontist? And is there a right age for getting braces?

Parents often assume this can only be done once all the teeth are in but certain bites and issues should be treated at younger ages before all permanent teeth have erupted.  Some of these issues include:  

  • Overbite (Excess Overjet)
  • Crossbites
  • Underbite
  • Uneven Bite
  • Overcrowding
  • Protruding Teeth

Your child should have an initial orthodontic consultation at the age of 7 so that your orthodontist can address any orthodontic concerns and check for these issues.  If your child does not have any issues that require early treatment your child probably won’t need braces until the age of 10 to 12.

Cheek Biting
Ever looked forward to a mouth watery meal and BAM, you accidentally bite your cheek!  Just like that the meal is ruined.  It may happen once in a while that you accidentally bite your cheek, but if it happens frequently, your teeth may be positioned poorly. Aside from ruining meals cheek biting can result in mouth sores and ulcers.  Unfortunately they do not heal over night, so they could interfere with a family get together or any other planned social event.  Sure paying more attention when chewing food could help prevent a cheek bite, but lets be honest, does anyone remember to pay attention to chewing while enjoying the conversation of our peers? Not just “bad bites” cause cheek biting, nervous habits or just careless chewing can also be the cause but if an improper bite is your case, dental appliances and/or braces may fix your bite alleviating the discomfort of cheek biting.  Call us today for us to take a look!  You have nothing to lose only gain peace of mind eating.
Orthodontic Treatments
There are times when conventional orthodontic solutions cannot successfully treat a bite problem. Severe malocclusion may require surgical treatment particularly if it is causing functional problems such as speech difficulties, inability to properly chew food and facial dysfunction in the form of joint pain, headaches or gum problems. Self-esteem issues brought about by jaw abnormalities may also necessitate the need for surgery. Also known as orthognathic surgery, surgical orthodontics is used to treat severe cases of jawbone abnormalities and bad bites. If your orthodontist has determined that you need surgery, he or she will work with an oral & maxillofacial surgeon to ensure you receive the best care possible.   Do I Need Surgery?   Adults suffering from severely bad bites or have concerns about their facial appearance may consider surgical orthodontics. But to know for certain whether it is necessary, your orthodontist will evaluate your mouth structures including your jaws, teeth, and gums before making a diagnosis. Typically, jaw growth stops between the age of 16 and 18. When the jaws do not line up properly and cause functional and aesthetic problems for the patient, orthognathic surgery may be needed to move the jaw and teeth into their correct position. An orthodontist will wait until the jaw has stopped growing before determining whether surgery is the appropriate treatment.   How It Works   Orthodontic surgery can only be performed by a licensed oral & maxillofacial surgeon and the surgery often takes place in a hospital setting. The surgery can take several hours and once complete, you will be required to rest for at least two weeks. Since this is a major procedure, you will be advised not to work or go to school during this period. The healing phase takes several weeks. Once the jaw has healed, your bite will be “fine-tuned” by the orthodontist. You may be prescribed braces or clear aligners, which you’ll need to wear for 6-12 months. Then you’ll wear retainers to maintain the proper position of your teeth will be maintained.   Benefits of Orthognathic Surgery   For many of our patients, the best reward of having orthodontic surgery is a healthy and beautiful smile. Orthognathic surgery can correct malocclusions and jaw abnormalities enabling you to chew your food properly, speak more clearly and smile more confidently. It is also considered a treatment option for those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.   Is Orthodontic Surgery Risky?   As with all major surgical procedures, there are risks associated with orthognathic surgery. If you have any concerns, please feel free to ask your oral surgeon. Surgical Orthodontics is a collaborative effort between your dentist, orthodontist and oral & maxillofacial surgeon. We will work together to create a treatment plan that will move your teeth to their ideal position by means of surgery. To find out if you’re a suitable candidate for orthognathic surgery, please schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Washington. We will discuss your concerns and objectives, and perform a thorough examination of your mouth to determine if surgery is right for you.
Bad Bite
As an established orthodontics practice in Grand Prairie, TX, we often get asked about what causes a bad bite. Also known as malocclusion, a bad bite happens when your upper and lower teeth don’t fit together correctly. It is a misalignment problem that can lead to serious complications to your oral health and well-being. Ideally, your teeth should fit together without any spaces or crowding issues. The teeth in your upper jaw should ever so slightly overlap with your lower teeth so the molars’ pointed ridges fit into the groves of the molars opposite to them. Any deviation is considered a malocclusion and may include: crowded teeth, overbite, crossbite, open bite or underbite. Here are some of the signs and symptoms that you or a loved one may have a malocclusion:
  • Teeth are improperly aligned
  • Constant biting of the tongue and/or inner cheeks
  • Difficulty or discomfort biting or chewing
  • Speech problems
  • Mouth breathing
  • Changes in the appearance or shape of the face
When the teeth are misaligned, they are unable to perform crucial functions. Proper alignment of the upper teeth is necessary to prevent biting of the lips and cheeks, while proper alignment of the lower teeth prevents you from biting your tongue. Causes of a Bad Bite In many cases, a person may have a bad bite because it runs in their family. However, there are some habits or conditions that can alter the structure and shape of the jaw, thus affecting the teeth. Some of the most common ones include:
  • Chronic thumb-sucking in early childhood
  • Injuries that affect the jaw
  • Impacted teeth
  • Abnormally shaped teeth
  • Mouth or jaw tumors
  • Prolonged bottle-feeding
  • Prolonged use of pacifier
  • Poor oral care
  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Mouth breathing
How is a Bad Bite Diagnosed? A bad bite is typically diagnosed during routine dental checkups/exams. The first dental visit usually involves examining the shape and condition of the teeth and jaws and performing x-rays to evaluate if the teeth are aligned correctly. Should your dentist detect a malocclusion, they will classify the issue based on its severity and type:
  • Class 1 – The upper teeth slightly overlap with the lower teeth.
  • Class 2 – There is a severe overbite, with the upper teeth and jaw greatly overlapping with the lower teeth and jaw.
  • Class 3 – There is a severe underbite with the lower jaw protruding forward, overlapping with the upper teeth and jaw.
Treating a Bad Bite Dr. Washington has treated many patients with a bad bite. Treatment may include braces to correct the position of the teeth, as well as removal of some teeth if there is overcrowding. We usually recommend the use of Clear aligners (products like Invisalign) especially for patients who want a comfortable and inconspicuous alternative to clunky braces. We also offer accelerated orthodontic solutions for patients who want to fix their smile in the shortest time possible. For more information, please call our office and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.