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Orthodontic Treatment (Braces and more!)

At Orange County Pediatric Dental Group, Santa Ana, an orthodontic evaluation is part of every examination by Dr. Renzi and Dr. House. 

The benefits of orthodontic treatment often go beyond the obvious physical changes of an improved bite and straighter teeth; it’s also a great way to improve a person’s overall self-image.   While having beautiful straight teeth is important, even more important is the need to alleviate any potential health problems associated with the teeth or jaw.  Crooked teeth or jaw problems may contribute to improper cleaning of teeth, leading to tooth decay and, possibly, gum disease or total tooth loss.  Orthodontic problems that go untreated can lead to chewing and digestion difficulties, speech impairments, and abnormal wear of tooth surfaces.  Over time, excessive strain on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth can affect the jaw joints leading to problems such as headaches or face and neck pain.

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children get an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7.  Though orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, timely treatment ensures maximum dental health. As Pediatric Dentists, Dr. Renzi and Dr. House see potential orthodontic problems even in infancy. When there is no spacing between baby teeth, we can anticipate that a child will have insufficient room for permanent teeth to erupt. Even in our infant oral examinations, we are evaluating spacing, habits, and evaluating how the jaws come together as these can impact orthodontics as the child grows. This helps us to give guidance to families so that they can plan for the future. 

What's new in orthodontics? 

With all of the recent advancements in orthodontics, wearing braces has never been easier.  We provide state-of-the-art orthodontic appliances with self-ligating brackets and NASA type wires that are heat activated and require fewer adjustments!  Some patients may even be candidates for treatment with aligners, a revolutionary way to straighten teeth using a series of clear trays that require no braces or wires!

If treatment is indicated, we will discuss which treatment options are available for your child/teen!

Reasons for orthodontic treatment for children & teens (partial list):

  • Breathing or swallowing problems – Mouth breathing is associated with snoring and sleep apnea.
  • Crossbite – One or more upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth (towards the tongue).
  • Crowding – Involving poorly positioned teeth.
  • Deep Overbite – The lower front teeth bite into gum tissue behind the upper front teeth.
  • Missing or extra teeth – Due to tooth decay, injuries, or inherited problems.
  • Overjet (protruding upper teeth) – Upper teeth that protrude beyond normal and are usually associated with a short lower jaw or excess space. Teeth can be more prone to traumatic fracture with excessive overjet (people often call this an "overbite" even though the correct term is overjet). 
  • Self-image – An attractive smile can boost a person’s self-image and confidence.
  • Spacing between teeth – Teeth are missing or may be too small or too large.
  • Speech, chewing or biting problems
  • "Underbite" (lower jaw protrusion) – Lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw (correct term is negative overjet).
  • Malalignment from finger or thumb sucking – These habits can cause protrusion of the upper incisor teeth and spacing.
  • Teeth erupting out of position – Can be guided to proper alignment.

What does orthodontic treatment involve?

Orthodontic treatment involves three phases:

1.  Planning Phase – Your first couple of visits may include the following:

  • A medical and dental history evaluation.
  • Digital impressions using our iTero system.
  • Computer generated photograph of the head and neck that will aid in planning.
  • Photographs of your face and mouth.
  • X-rays of the teeth and jaws.

Dr. Renzi and Dr. House will create a custom treatment plan for each patient based on his or her unique needs. 

2.  Active Phase – Active treatment involves visiting your orthodontist on a regular basis for adjustments and following specific treatment requirements to ensure successful treatment.

3.  Retention Phase – When treatment is completed, the braces and/or appliances are removed and retainers.  The type of retainers will depend on the type of treatment provided. These retainers will hold your teeth if worn continuously until the teeth and bone are stabilized in their new positions. 

Treatment and retention times vary depending on each individual case. As always, patient compliance is key!

Dr. Renzi and Dr. House can not only help straighten your teeth, giving you an appealing smile, but can greatly contribute to the health of your jaw, teeth and sometimes your overall health. It is important to maintain regular dental check-ups and cleanings during your orthodontic care. 

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