Is my child too young for orthodontics?  What is Phase 1?

While there is no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends visiting the orthodontist around age seven.  By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it easier for Dr. Miller to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery.   Phase 1 treatment can:

  • Correct and guide the growth of your child’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
  • Create more space for crowded teeth by expanding the jaws
  • Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
  • Correct thumb sucking and help improve minor speech problems


What is Phase 2???

Some patients need Phase 1 – Early Treatment – at a young age when they still have a mix of baby and adult teeth.    After they complete Phase 1, retainers are worn until the adult teeth come in.  Once all the permanent adult teeth are in, it is time for full treatment (braces or aligners) to finish what we’ve started.   The goal of Phase 1 is to correct very specific, severe issues — such as crowding or overbite.  However, even with a successful first phase, the adult teeth will still not come in “perfectly straight”.  That is why Phase 2 is often needed – to finish aligning the teeth and bite.

Am I too old for orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment is no longer just for teens. In fact, in our office over 20% of our patients are 30+ years old (we’ve even treated some patients in their 70s and 80s!).  With clear aligners and clear ceramic braces, no one can even tell you are having orthodontics!   Common reasons why adults consider orthodontic treatment:

  • A bad bite or malocclusion, causing teeth to fit together incorrectly
  • Teeth are crowded or spaced apart, possibly causing tooth decay or gum disease
  • Abnormal jaw pain, or pressure that is caused by crooked teeth
  • Desire for a healthier mouth and a more confident smile


How long will I have orthodontic treatment for?

The amount of treatment needed to correct a problem will determine how long the process takes. Different patients react to treatments differently. While it may take one patient only 12 months to complete treatment, it may take another patient 24 months. Treatment times can vary depending on how quickly your body responds and how much work is needed to give you the show-stopping smile you expect.  The average adult/teen plan is 18 months.   The average Phase 1 Early Treatment plant is 9-12 months.

Will my insurance cover orthodontics?

Yes, they usually do!  As long as you have PPO coverage for orthodontic treatment as part of your dental policy.  Some plans have an age restriction (under 26 or under 21) – but many plans will allow orthodontic treatment to be covered at any age!    We will gladly check your plan for you to ensure coverage.   Typically a plan will contribute $1000 to $2000 towards orthodontics.

Why do I need orthodontics?  Really, why?

  • Straight teeth are healthy teeth — Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to keep clean with flossing and brushing, and may help prevent other health problems.
  • A beautiful, straight smile builds confidence — Orthodontic treatment can help boost your self-confidence, giving you a better quality of life and the freedom to smile without holding back!
  • Mouths left untreated can get worse — Not receiving orthodontic treatment when it’s needed can create long-term health issues costing you more in the end.


Extractions!  Why would I need those?

We are able to treat most patients (80-90%) without the need to extract any teeth.  If we start young enough, with Phase 1 treatment, that gives us the best chance to fit all of the teeth in, since we can expand the jaws of children/teens easily.   Sometimes baby teeth are removed, but don’t worry, we are just helping to make room for those larger adult teeth.

In some cases, yes, the best treatment option is extraction of permanent teeth (anywhere from 1 to 4 teeth).   In some patients there is just no room for the teeth — either large teeth or small jaws are the culprit.  In those instances trying to fit all of the teeth in would be unhealthy (loose teeth, gum recession), look terrible (teeth sticking out too far) and poor treatment (many years of dental problems in the future). Ask us to show you some examples of patients with extractions — they have gorgeous, healthy smiles!!


Can’t I just have my Primary Care Dentist straighten my teeth?

There are no ‘rules’ stating your general dentist can’t use aligners or braces to straighten teeth. However, just like with medical doctors, it is important to specialists – extra experience and training matter! Would you ever consider having your primary care physician deliver your baby? or do brain surgery on you? No way! Some general dentists dabble in orthodontics and may have some basic skills and training. However, Dr. Miller is an Orthodontic Specialist! Which means AFTER becoming a general dentist, he completed 3 additional years of residency training to become an orthodontist. He has been exclusively doing orthodontics for over 13 years. A primary care dentist simply cannot offer the same level of care.




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