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When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

Childhood orthodontic problems can often develop over time. As children lose their baby teeth and their adult teeth come in, the potential for misalignment grows. In addition, the emergence of wisdom teeth in the late teens can lead to impacted teeth and the possible need for extractions.

Parents should be on the lookout for any problems when teeth come in. The emergence of one tooth can push other teeth out of alignment, so pay attention to existing teeth and oral health for the whole mouth in addition to specific problem teeth.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first see an orthodontist around the age of 7. This is around the time that children have a mixture of both permanent teeth and baby teeth, which allows us to get a good picture of any issues that may arise. While we don’t always recommend starting treatment at this age, our job is to monitor and guide the emergence of permanent teeth in children to prevent potential misalignments and overcrowding.

Signs of Trouble with Tooth Alignment

If your child experiences any of the following problems, it might be time to consult an orthodontist.

  • Visible misalignment of teeth
  • Pain in teeth or jaw
  • Failure for a tooth to come in properly
  • Difficulty chewing or speaking

Treatment Plan

At Guidry & Horaist Orthodontics, we use a two-phase process that guides a child’s teeth into the proper alignment without interrupting the crucial stages of tooth and jaw development.

Phase 1

The first phase of orthodontic treatment ensures that the jaw is ready to accommodate permanent teeth as they start to emerge. This phase typically occurs during the early years of grade school and addresses problems such as jaw alignment and overcrowded teeth.


The resting phase allows time for the rest of the adult teeth to finish coming in. The arrangement and alignment of teeth become more clear at this time, but this may not be the permanent placement of the teeth. In ideal situations, your child may not need further treatment after Phase 1. However, if Phase 2 is needed, it is usually a shorter length of time and a less involved process.

Phase 2

Once most of the permanent teeth fully erupt, you can consult with your orthodontist to evaluate whether signs of overcrowding or misalignment are present. This phase is used to tweak and correct any problems that were not addressed or corrected in Phase 1. This is typically the phase when braces are needed.

Lifestyle Adjustments with Braces

The length of time needed for braces to make the necessary adjustments can vary based on the specific case, but is usually between 12-36 months. Our team will help you and your child easily adjust to life with braces and is here for you every step of the process.

Foods To Avoid

Your child should avoid eating foods that will stick to their braces or damage any part of the appliance. This includes gum, raw vegetables, hard candy, and other foods that are sticky, crunchy, or tough to bite into. Once you begin treatment, our team will give you a complete guide to foods that should be avoided and tips for still being able to enjoy mealtime with some of your favorite foods.

Oral Hygiene Routine

With braces, it is especially important to keep up a good oral hygiene routine to ensure your smile looks its best and stays healthy. While it can be a challenge to brush and floss with braces, our team will work with you to provide tips and tools that help get the job done. Brushing and flossing after each meal are important to ensure that your braces remain clean and shiny.