Between work, school, extracurriculars, and the occasional special event, families today are busier than ever before. Being a mom can often mean juggling your family’s calendar while wearing multiple hats, from cook to chauffeur and everything in between. But there’s one hat you shouldn’t have to wear if you’re a mother – that of an orthodontist! That’s because expert advice and guidance is essential when it comes to your child’s oral health.

After completing dental school, experienced orthodontists like Drs. Courtney and Matthew Dunn undertake years of additional training in order to become highly-trained specialists in tooth movement, facial growth, and dental development. This makes them the best bet for giving your child a smile that looks and feels great!

You may not be an expert when it comes to orthodontics, but we still want you to feel confident in your choice to seek orthodontic treatment for your child. It’s a big investment in their oral health, so let’s take a look at some of the most important things moms should know about orthodontics.

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Orthodontics: more than straight smiles

There’s a fairly common misconception that orthodontics is about straightening smiles and not much else. In reality, it deals with much more! Because straight teeth aren’t the only indicator of a healthy smile, orthodontics focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of malpositioned teeth and jaws. Orthodontists go beyond the surface of a smile and examine not only a patient’s teeth, but the movement and growth of their jaw as well. They also observe the teeth as they develop, checking for any impacted, missing, or overcrowded teeth that may otherwise go unnoticed until they are already causing problems for the patient.

Dunn orthodontic assistant with young patient girl

Your child should have an orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7

Since orthodontics is so often associated with teens and sometimes adults, it may surprise you to learn that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends kids have their first orthodontic exam by about age 7. After all, their mouths are still developing, and they generally have a mix of baby and permanent teeth to deal with. However, that’s actually the point – seeing children around this age means we can pick up on potential problems before they become a big deal. This can lessen or eliminate any negative impact on your child’s permanent teeth and bite.

Dunn Orthodontics believes strongly in the power of preventative care! We see many young patients at our practice, and know firsthand how starting treatment at the right time can make a positive difference in a child’s oral health. Most children won’t require any active treatment, but an early exam lets us check for a number of issues to determine if and when orthodontic treatment is indicated.

Choose an orthodontic office you’re comfortable with

Patients will need to be seen every 6-8 weeks on average throughout their orthodontic process, although this can vary somewhat depending on the type of treatment. Since you’ll be spending quite a bit of time there with your child, it’s important to find an office you feel comfortable with! Our four office locations in Arcadia, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Litchfield Park are bright, relaxing, and conveniently located so you can get back to work, school, or home as soon as possible after your child’s appointment. We work hard to provide you and your entire family with a warm, welcoming environment and a positive, rewarding experience from your first appointment to your last!

There are multiple treatment options available

With innovative technology and cutting-edge techniques, modern orthodontics has come a long way in recent years. Achieving a straighter, healthier smile at any age is easier than ever before! At Dunn Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer the following treatment options.

Traditional metal braces

Traditional metal braces are the most widely used type of orthodontic treatment, and for good reason. They are a reliable, effective, and economical option for straightening smiles, especially in cases that are more severe or complicated. Braces are typically composed of brackets, wires, and bands that work together to gently guide a child’s teeth into the desired positions over time. Today’s braces are smaller, lighter, and more comfortable than previous versions, and can also be personalized by choosing elastics in fun and funky color combinations!

Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces, sometimes referred to as clear braces, are a variation on conventional braces. They utilize the same components as traditional braces, but the brackets on the front side of the teeth are made of a translucent ceramic material that blends in with the natural color of your teeth. When paired with clear, white, or tooth-colored elastics and ties, this offers patients an incredibly discrete treatment option. Current ceramic braces do tend to be a little less durable than their metal counterparts and are sometimes prone to breakage, so we generally recommend them for older teens and adults.

Damon system braces

Unlike traditional braces that use elastic ties, Damon System braces have a sliding door mechanism to hold the archwire in place. This makes a tunnel to hold the archwire while allowing it to slide freely. We offer Damon Q brackets, which are the most state-of-the-art, self-ligating bracket system currently available. The braces are constructed of a high-grade stainless steel, making them durable and extremely strong. The brackets also have more rounded, smoother corners for increased comfort and less visibility. Damon braces can be an effective alternative to patients who wish to avoid metal or ceramic braces.

Invisalign clear aligner therapy

Invisalign treatment doesn’t rely on a system of metal or ceramic brackets and wires. Instead, the system uses a series of clear, customized aligners that are nearly invisible and completely removable. The aligners are composed of a soft but strong thermoplastic resin, so patients avoid some of the friction and abrasions that braces can cause. As the teeth begin to shift, the aligners will be changed out every 1-2 weeks to keep up with the movements.

Unlike braces, Invisalign relies almost entirely on patient compliance to work properly. The aligners must be worn 20-22 hours every day, throughout the course of treatment. The Invisalign system also tends to work best for mild to moderate orthodontic issues, so it isn’t always a suitable choice for patients who have more severe or complicated cases.

Dr. Dunn working on a young patient's teeth

Treatment times will vary from case to case

There is no “one size fits all” answer when it comes to treatment times. Every patient has their own unique smile and will respond to treatment in their own way. The length of time your child will require treatment will vary based on their specific case. Factors such as the severity of the problem, the health of their teeth, gums, and supporting bone, and how compliant they are will also play a part. On average, however, braces tend to be worn for about 12 to 24 months, while Invisalign treatment averages about 12-18 months.

Give your child the gift of a lifetime with a smile from Dunn Orthodontics

Being a mom, we know you want the best for your child, and that includes a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime! If you’re in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arcadia, Litchfield Park, or the surrounding communities and want to explore more about orthodontics for your child, get in touch today to schedule a free exam! We’d love to meet you both and get your child started on the road to improved oral health and a smile they’ll want to share with the world.

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