Pediatric Orthodontics: A Parent’s Guide To Treatment For Kids

Welcome to “Pediatric Orthodontics: A Parent’s Guide To Treatment For Kids”! As a caring parent, you want the best for your child’s health, including their dental care. This guide will help you understand the essentials of pediatric orthodontics, from identifying early signs that your child might need braces to navigating treatment options and maintaining a healthy smile throughout their developmental years. You’ll gain the knowledge to make informed decisions and ensure your child’s orthodontic journey is smooth and effective. Have you ever wondered when the right time is to start thinking about orthodontic treatment for your child? As a parent, you naturally want to ensure your child’s oral health is in tip-top shape, and sometimes that means considering braces or other orthodontic treatments. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about pediatric orthodontics, providing a deeper understanding of the options available and when they might be needed.

What is Pediatric Orthodontics?

Pediatric orthodontics is a specialized field of dentistry focused on diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental and facial irregularities in children. Unlike general orthodontics, which can apply to any age group, pediatric orthodontics considers the unique aspects of a child’s growing mouth.

The Importance of Early Intervention

Intervening early can make a significant difference in your child’s dental health. Some issues can be easier to correct if they are addressed at a young age when the mouth is still growing. Early intervention can also help avoid more complex treatments in the future.

Signs Your Child Might Need Orthodontic Treatment

Recognizing the signs that your child might need orthodontic treatment is crucial. Here are some indicators to watch for:

  • Difficulty in chewing or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb sucking beyond age 5
  • Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
  • Jaws that shift or make sounds
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Teeth that meet abnormally or don’t meet at all
  • Asymmetrical facial structure

Pediatric Orthodontics: A Parents Guide To Treatment For Kids

Types of Orthodontic Treatments

There are various types of orthodontic treatments available for children. Each type addresses specific dental issues and has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Traditional Braces

Traditional metal braces consist of brackets that are glued to the teeth and connected by wires and rubber bands. They are the most common type of braces and can effectively treat a wide range of orthodontic issues.

Advantages Disadvantages
Effective for severe cases Visible and can be aesthetically unpleasing
Durable and strong Can cause discomfort and require frequent adjustments
Generally less expensive Can be difficult to clean around

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces work similarly to traditional braces but are made of clear or tooth-colored materials.

Advantages Disadvantages
Less noticeable than metal braces More expensive than traditional braces
Effective for most orthodontic issues Brackets can stain if not properly maintained
Strong and durable May be more uncomfortable than metal braces


Invisalign treatment involves a series of clear, removable aligners that are custom-made for your child’s teeth.

Advantages Disadvantages
Virtually invisible Generally more expensive
Removable for easy cleaning Not suitable for severe orthodontic issues
Comfortable to wear Requires discipline to ensure aligners are worn as prescribed

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces but are attached to the back side of the teeth, making them less visible.

Advantages Disadvantages
Invisible from the front More expensive and harder to clean
Effective for most orthodontic issues Can be uncomfortable initially
Customized to your child’s mouth Longer treatment time

When to Begin Orthodontic Treatment

Determining the best time to start orthodontic treatment depends on your child’s specific needs. Generally, it’s recommended that children have an initial evaluation by an orthodontist by age 7. At this age, an orthodontist can spot any developing issues and plan accordingly.

Early or Interceptive Treatment (Age 6-10)

Early treatment involves the use of appliances to guide the growth of the jaw and the coming in of permanent teeth. This stage of treatment can address issues such as crowding and spaces between teeth, as well as correct harmful habits like thumb-sucking.

Two-Phase Treatment

Two-phase treatment combines both early treatment and additional treatment later when the child’s mouth has developed more. The first phase generally sets the foundation for proper growth, while the second phase focuses on the final alignment of the teeth.

Adolescent Treatment (Ages 11-18)

Most orthodontic treatment occurs during adolescence when most of the permanent teeth have come in. Braces or Invisalign are commonly used during this stage to correct alignment issues and create a proper bite.

Pediatric Orthodontics: A Parents Guide To Treatment For Kids

Finding the Right Orthodontist

Choosing the right orthodontist for your child is essential. You want someone experienced in pediatric orthodontics with a gentle and understanding approach.

Questions to Ask

When selecting an orthodontist, be sure to ask these questions:

  1. What is your experience with pediatric orthodontics?
  2. What are your qualifications and certifications?
  3. Can you provide references or testimonials from other parents?
  4. What treatment options do you recommend for my child and why?
  5. What is the estimated treatment time and cost?
  6. What kind of follow-up care is required?

The Initial Consultation

The initial consultation with your chosen orthodontist is an important step. During this visit, the orthodontist will examine your child’s teeth, take X-rays, and discuss possible treatment options. This is also the time to ask any questions you might have and to understand what the orthodontic journey will entail.

Pediatric Orthodontics: A Parents Guide To Treatment For Kids

The Treatment Process

Understanding the treatment process will help you and your child feel more comfortable and prepared.

Initial Fitting

Once a treatment plan is in place, the fitting process will begin. Whether your child opts for braces or Invisalign, the initial fitting is an essential step. For braces, this involves attaching brackets and wires; for Invisalign, it involves receiving the first set of aligners.

Regular Adjustments

Your child will need regular appointments to adjust the braces or receive new sets of Invisalign aligners. These appointments are crucial for ensuring the treatment is progressing as planned.

Maintaining Oral Hygiene

Maintaining proper oral hygiene is extremely important during orthodontic treatment. Here are some tips:

  • Brush Regularly: Encourage your child to brush their teeth after every meal.
  • Floss Daily: Flossing can be challenging with braces, but special tools can help.
  • Use Mouthwash: An antibacterial mouthwash can help eliminate germs that brushing and flossing might miss.

Common Issues

During the treatment, your child might experience some common issues such as discomfort, mouth sores, or broken brackets. It’s essential to address these issues promptly and consult your orthodontist if necessary.

Completing the Treatment

Once the treatment is completed, your orthodontist will remove the braces or aligners. This is an exciting time, but it’s not the end of the journey.


To keep the teeth in their new positions, your child will likely need to wear a retainer. Retainers help ensure the teeth do not drift back to their original positions.

Type Description Advantages Disadvantages
Hawley Retainer Removable retainer made of metal wires and acrylic Easy to clean, durable Visible, can be lost
Clear Retainer Removable and virtually invisible retainer Less noticeable Can be lost, less durable
Fixed Retainer Bonded behind the teeth No risk of being lost, not visible Harder to maintain oral hygiene

Maintaining Results

Encourage your child to maintain good oral hygiene and attend regular dental check-ups to ensure their smile remains healthy and beautiful.

Pediatric Orthodontics: A Parents Guide To Treatment For Kids

Costs and Insurance

Orthodontic treatments can be costly, but many insurance plans offer some coverage. It’s essential to understand the costs involved and explore financing options if necessary.

Cost Breakdown

Costs vary depending on the type of treatment and the severity of the case. Here is a general cost range for common treatments:

Treatment Type Cost Range
Traditional Braces $3,000 – $7,000
Ceramic Braces $4,000 – $8,000
Invisalign $4,000 – $7,500
Lingual Braces $8,000 – $10,000

Insurance and Payment Plans

Check with your insurance provider to see what portion of the costs they cover. Many orthodontists also offer flexible payment plans to make treatment more affordable.

Emotional Support for Your Child

Starting orthodontic treatment can be a significant adjustment for your child. Providing emotional support and understanding is essential during this time. Make sure to:

  • Reassure your child that the treatment will be worth it for a beautiful, healthy smile.
  • Encourage them to talk about any fears or concerns they have.
  • Celebrate milestones in their treatment journey to keep morale high.

Pediatric Orthodontics: A Parents Guide To Treatment For Kids


Pediatric orthodontics is an important aspect of ensuring your child’s overall oral health and well-being. By understanding the various treatment options, recognizing signs that your child might need orthodontic intervention, and actively participating in the orthodontic process, you’re setting your child up for a lifetime of healthy, confident smiles. Remember, the journey may be long, but the end result is well worth the effort. So, get ready to embark on this orthodontic adventure with your child and watch their smile transform!