Advice about Orthodontia
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Advice about Orthodontia
Questions about Kids Under 10
Our dentist (not an ortho) is recommending an ALF appliance (Advanced Lightwire
Functional) for our 7 yr old son. I'm unsure about this and one consult with an
Orthodontist told me that it was not effective or 'evidence based'. In my research, it
appears to be a cranial-osteopathy type of appliance.
If you've had this treatment or know about it, can you tell me whether it was effective
and worth it for a child? I'm having a lot of issues with the dentist and feeling
pressured into this. She is not an orthodontist and I want to feel like I'm making the
correct decision for my child's dental health.
I appreciate all input in helping us make this decision.
I will be curious to see the responses. My 7 yr-old was given the same recommendation, and I am
also skeptical. A friend said the old way of going about this was to wait until all the adult
teeth were in. I can't imagine my wiggly guy with a retainer, he'll lose it in a flash! Let me
know how it goes, and I hope you find a better dentist!
My 10 year old daughter currently has an ALF appliance, for about 2 years. I've
seen a huge improvement in her jaw alignment and straighter teeth. She has not had
any braces yet. Our dentist too is not an orthodontist, but believes in a more
holistic approach. Rather than put braces on young kids for 2 rounds, she says this
is a much more gentle, non invasive approach, that works from the source...subtly
pushing out the bones rather than simply moving the teeth, which could cause your
skull to be out of alignment. (In fact, learning about this made me wonder if I had
this rather than all the braces I did as a kid, I wouldn't have so many migraines
as an adult..) Keep in mind this is my layman's interpretation. In my opinion, its
so much better than a retainer because it stays in your mouth all the time, and you
don't feel it, and its on the inside of your teeth so you can't notice it at all.
My daughter's teeth were very crooked and crowded, and I was worried about her not
getting braces. But I recently was looking at an old photo and was shocked to see
the huge improvements, they are so much straighter. She still may or (or maybe
not) need braces after this treatment, but not for as long as she would have
otherwise. There is a website you can google to read more about it.
happy with ALF
My daughter is just turning 8. Her dentist referred her
to an orthodontist because she has an underbite. The
underbite is significant and has been noticeable to me for
a long time, even with her baby teeth. We went to the
orthodontist today and he recommended braces now rather
than later because the pressure of the underbite causes
the lower teeth to be pushed out by the top teeth, causing
the lower gums to thin and receede and the jaw to be
pushed forward and out of alignment, all of which is
already happening and will only get worse if not treated.
Everything the ortho said made sense, he answered all of
my questions competently and was not pressuring me. We
are going to do it, I just can't shake the feeling that
braces on an 8 year old seems strange. This is so
different than in ''my day'' when braces were reserved for
teens. It is hard for me to accept what I perceive as a
teenage experience for my little girl. This is my issue,
my daughter is thrilled to be getting braces and excited
about the colored rubber bands. I am interested to hear
about the experiences of parents whose kids had braces
Thanks in advance
My daughter got braces when she was 7, had them (and
retainers) for about a year, and she sees the orthodontist
once a year for a checkup to make sure everything is still
ok (she's 11 now). The early braces were great - she was
excited to have them (they come in cool colors now), I guess
her teeth adjusted quickly - maybe because she is younger?,
and now she doesn't have to have braces as a teen, which I
can tell would be a more negative experience (socially).
Money well spent, problem solved early!
I also got my braces at age 8, for the opposite reason, an
excessive overbite. You couldn't see my bottom teeth at
all when I smiled. I had my braces from 5th (1989) to 9th
grade (1993). I was so excited to get my braces because I
would have something to show off at school. Actually most
kids in school with me got their braces at this time or
soon after. I really liked going to the office because it
was decorated so colorfully and I could change the color
of bands each time. Although it hurt for the next day
after tightening for the most part I liked the special
attention I got from my parents and peers. The day that I
got them off was also really amazing and to this day my
dentist tell me I have exceptionally beautiful teeth!
My son got braces at eight years old and many, many of his classmates
have or have had them. Thank goodness we did, because his problem
could not have been corrected later without pulling one or two permanent
Glad we solved the problem early
Yeppers. As an old timer with the teen- ''4 on the floor''(yank the first molars
to make room)-style orthodontia, and now two 9-year-olds in palate
wideners and braces, I know both routes. The early application style braces
are FAR FAR superior to our old yank-to-make-space-after-all-the-
As an old timer, I can tell you that the teeth want to drift back to their old
positions. I have gaps where they pulled teeth to make the rest fit, and I have
horrendous bite issues. Pulling teeth changes the pressure that the other
teeth must bear. Not a good thing. It's a giant PIA to live with. If you start
early, the teeth will more likely not drift to old positions. The outcome will be
better since the jaw will not be pushed around. Bad ''habits'' like teeth
grinding due to misalignment will be halted while those habits are still
I also urge you to have them assess your daughter for space available. A
disturbing number of orthodontists here still advocate pulling teeth. If you
wait until the teen years to assess for that, then she'll HAVE to have teeth
pulled. You want to avoid that.
I understand it might seem odd to have braces so young but I
think it is great that you were referred by your dentist to
an orthodontist at a young age.
I knew at young ages that my 2 children would need braces,
but we waited (at our dentists recommendation) to see an
orthodontist until their last molars were in. I wish that we
had visited an orthodontist for a 2nd opinion when they were
younger. By the time we saw the orthodontist my daughter
already had an impacted molar, that had to be pulled, due to
over crowding. Luckily her wisdom tooth has filled that
space nicely, as planned. My son had to have his palate
widened. That process is easier the younger you are so
starting sooner would have been preferable. Both children
were in braces for longer than they would have needed if
they had been seen at a younger age.
The other thing to consider is the attitude of an 8 year old
vs a 13 or 14 year old. It is great that your son is so
excited. My children we accepting, at best. It was a real
power struggle to get them to take proper care of their
teeth and to wear their rubber-bands and retainers. At a
younger age the treatment would have been more under my
control and their willingness to receive assistance would
have been much greater. I now know several kids who did
braces between 6 and 10 years old and they all seem much
less resentful of the experience than my children. I think
that this new trend of braces at a young age is due simply
to new understanding of how teeth work and when certain
corrections can be made. It makes sense that if you make
changes younger when bones and teeth are still developing
that it will be easier and have a better outcome.
The one other piece of advice I have is to get multiple
opinions on the treatment and have the entire process
explained (the why, how, who, where). It is worth it to
choose an orthodontist that you are 100% comfortable with
and who is willing to take the time with both you and your
child to explain what is happening.
Live, Learn, Share
I had braces when I was 8 (it did seem uncommon 35 years
ago, but not now) and it was nice to have it taken care of
before the awkward teen years! I don't remember being
teased, etc. The only thing was that because I had it done
so early, some of my teeth moved back. I would just help
your daughter be vigilant about follow up care. I was not!
Again, I think it's more common now to have braces
earlier...a friend's son is getting them at 8 also.
I wouldn't worry about it!
I had braces when I was 8 (it did seem uncommon 35 years
ago, but not now) and it was nice to have it taken care of
before the awkward teen years! I don't remember being
teased, etc. The only thing was that because I had it done
so early, some of my teeth moved back. I would just help
your daughter be vigilant about follow up care. I was not!
Again, I think it's more common now to have braces
earlier...a friend's son is getting them at 8 also.
I wouldn't worry about it!
This is an anecdote, and, as they say, an interesting story
proves nothing. Still, here we go.
By the time I hit 20, I had had braces or para-braces
(retainers, spacers, etc.) in my mouth for 12 years. My
orthodontist (A creepy older guy with a Gull Wing Mercedes
that only hired female staffers and rarely appeared to do
anything personally) gave my parents and I the ''Well, the
braces got his teeth straight but they moved so we have to
start all over again. Make an appointment up front.''
speech. Four times. The ''Hang in there, baby!'' poster of a
kitty gripping a tree branch on the ceiling of his office is
now burned into my brain like a cattle brand.
Finally I wound up getting an operation to shorten my jaw.
Now part of it is permanently numb.
To be honest, I would have rather they waited. I get the
whole ''There's a risk of this or that if we don't get right
on this!'' thing, but there are quality of life issues for
the kid too. No, ''Dental Wax'' doesn't do squat to protect
My two cents.
I had braces for a severe underbite, but this was in the
80s... so they didn't put them on until I was 11 or 12. That
meant I had them through the awkward preteen/teenage years.
Looking back, I would have rather had them earlier! But from
what I hear these days the thing is to do braces twice...
once around 8 and again in the teenage years. Personally, I
don't get that and as the kid getting the braces, would
rather have just dealt with it once rather than twice!
Our child's pediatrician recommended we see an orthodontist, and our daughter
had braces at 8. They worked well, although she needed some form of retainer
through her teen years, when the cheekbone area and jaw grow so much. ''Early
orthodontia'' has been around since the '90s in Berkeley, at least for kids who
have noticeable underbites. The rationale is to treat them early so that nature can
take its intended course.
I hope you'll get comfortable with it.
Mother of a 35-yr.-old
Hi, my two cents is to not get orthodontics for your 8 yr. old. I feel very
strongly that these days health services are geared towards sales, and
that this is wrong. Even when I was a kid, my childhood dentist talked my
parents into getting orthadonture for me-- I was also 8. I had yet to have a
mouthful of adult teeth. The excruciating pain, and inability to fully
understand what the heck was wrong with me in the first place, really
scarred me. I also had to have braces and wear a retainer as a young
adult. The horrible, maddening pain of braces and spacers--completely
immune to all but the most deadening and excessive pain killer use--is
something that I feel should not be put upon a child. Unending,
inescapable, unrelenting physical pain for long periods of time is seriously
damaging to a child's pysche. Please hold out, wait and see how the teeth
develop, and when all adult teeth are in and your child is more self
reliant...Then maybe your child can determine how the teeth feel and if it
is necessary. Kids' teeth move an incredible amount!! It is all related to
overall body and bone growth, habits, etc. There are more factors at play-
- take a holistic view. At 14, my teeth were grown in completely different
than predicted. And I had to go through the whole thing again. Thanks for
posting your question--I wish my parents had been able to get advice from
someone other than the dentist!
Children should be able to control what happens to their own bodies.
I am 45, just to give you context on the ''back in my day''...and I got braces when
I was 7. I had a severe under-bite and a cross-bite, but my teeth were
straight...so for me, I had braces on my front 2 teeth and back tooth on either
side with holes in them to hold a headgear.
I think that working on a ''bite'' when one is young makes sense. I think that if
you are trying to straighten teeth...then you might wait until the ''adult'' teeth
Just my best guess
My daughter got braces when she was in first grade (six
years old), also for an underbite. At the time, I got a
second opinion from my own dentist, who confirmed that
this is a problem they like to fix at this age so it
doesn't affect the other teeth when they come out. She
wore the braces for seven months and now her teeth look
great, though depending on how things go, we may be in for
a second round later. She was a total celebrity at school
for being the only first grader with braces so no issues
there, and she liked changing colors every month--often
she went with seasonal themes (red and green at xmas,
orange at halloween, etc). Overall, I'm glad we did it.
Aside from looking so much nicer, the realignment of her
teeth also fixed her chewing issues: she was so used to
having the severe underbite that even with correction she
would often jut her lower jaw out while eating because
that's what she was used to. Good luck!
Braces at 6
My daughter got braces at 8 for a crossbite and crowding. She is now 10 and it was one of the best
decisions we ever made. The results were fast and dramatic and now beautiful adult teeth are
straight. I accept that she made need them again in middle school because as the rest of her teeth
come in they may not be straight. But had we not done the braces at 8 I can't imagine what she would
look like and at 10 I bet she would not want to smile and it might have affected her selfimage. Also
my dentist told me that if you wait to correct the ''bite'' issues later its much harder because the
bones are more sokid and harder to move.
YES! Braces at 8. Follow the professional's advice. We did and I am thrilled that
my son only had to wear braces for 6 months & retainers for one year. (Not all
results may happen so fast) but it was better than my personal experience years
ago as a teenager. Now he is going to be a teenager and has beautiful straight
teeth!! I know it seems odd, but it really does work this way.
Surprised parent of braces for 8
It does seem really early, doesn't it? Especially if all
the baby teeth aren't out. That said, my now close to 12 yo
had a terrible cross bite and an overbite and the braces
went on at 9. Scary bottom teeth, too. Braces are
now 'cool' in elementary school and 24 months after the
whole thing started, her cross bite and overbite is gone
and she's faithful about using the upper retainer. Not all
of the baby teeth on the bottom are gone; this has become a
problem as othodont cant fit the lower retainer till they
drop out. The theory now is that starting earlier means the
jaw, palate and other structures are more plastic and move
into shape more easily. However, you may be better off
waiting a bit longer so that all the adult teeth are in
best position. good luck with your decision.
daughter's beautiful smile
My daughter has had braces twice. She had her first set
when she was about your child's age. I also was surprised
at the seemingly young age of onset. I sent all of the
paperwork and diagnoses etc to my oral surgeon father who
completely agreed with the decision. So she had braces at
a young age and then she had her second set in middle
school. She has gorgeous teeth and i am happy with our
decision to follow what the professionals recommended.
It's wonderful that your daughter is so enthusiastic about
getting braces. My children are a lot younger, so I don't
have to worry about them getting braces just yet. I had
braces at 8 years old, in 3rd grade. I had an overbite and
very crooked teeth on the top and bottom. I think it was
okay for me to get braces at a younger age because most of
my permanent teeth had grown in.
I wore my braces for two years and then was pretty
disciplined about wearing a retainer all day and night for
another 2 years. By 7th grade, I was done and have had
straight teeth since.
At times it was hard being one of only a few students with
braces in elementary school, but by junior high I was so
glad I didn't have to wear them anymore while most of my
classmates did. Braces are a lot tinier and even cuter now
than they were 25 years ago, so your daughter probably won't
have too hard a time adjusting. Just remember to give her
some Tylenol or Motrin for the pain/soreness just after
getting them or having them adjusted.
- Easy Smile
I don't know if this has anything to do with your reluctance
but I want to tell you that NOTHING is more important to appearance
than a smile full of clean white straight teeth. Appearance
does matter, like it or not. And with a great smile, you can wear
cheap clothes and you will still look terrific.
My kids had orthodontic treatment in elementary school. It
worked out great! They are adults now, and their teeth are
beautiful. I think in some cases the problems are easier to
correct if they get braces early. Also, children are less
resistant than teens. If I had it to do over again, I would
do exactly the same thing.
Yup...this is the age they start braces now. My daughter is
9 and got a retainer (spacer) at 8 1/2, and braces a few
months ago. Her teeth were very crooked with a big gap in
the front top teeth. They look nearly perfect now, just 3
months after putting the braces on. At this age the mouth
and teeth are MUCH more pliable and move quickly with
orthodonture. We've been warned this may just be Phase 1,
and she may need more at an older age, but I'm very
impressed with the improvement orthodonture has had on her
Braces for younger kids are much more common these days.
My son got them when he was 9 and at least 3 other kids
in his class already had them. I too remember kids getting
braces in Jr High- not 3rd grade! It seems like your
daughters case is more than just cosmetic and I'm sure
you've discussed all the reasons for early treatment with
your orthodontist (bones are more malleable,bite is more
easily corrected,etc). Keep in mind that she'll likely
have 2 phases of treatment- braces on for 1-2 years now
and again when she's 12 or 13. My son had a noticable
overbite and crowding but within 2 months there was
dramatic improvement. You'll be shocked at how quickly her
teeth and jaw will move. Overall we've been very happy
with our decision to get braces for our then 9 year old.
He's glad that his teeth are nice and straight now as he
enters Middle School and I think his confidence has
improved too. Your daughter will thank you later and I'm
sure she won't be the only one is school with braces.
Besides, braces are cute
We just got a recommendation for extensive orthodontics for
our nearly 8 year old, (18 months, retainers and whatnot,
4k) and while I'm going to get a second opinion etc, I'd
also like to ask the community the following questions: 1.
If you went ahead with braces, retainers, etc at this early
age, did your child have a reasonable experience or was it a
fight all the way? When I had braces as a child (4000 years
ago in medieval England) it was extremely painful. I
remember crying myself to sleep. My kid is a sensitive plant
already, I'm not sure I have the emotional strength to deal
with it, to be honest. 2) Having done a lot of work with
your younger child, did you still need to do braces in their
teens, and in retrospect, do you think the first round of
work was worth it? When I check the archives I read a lot of
posts about teeth moving back, or the second round (in early
puberty) being not really helped by the first. And finally,
3) if you DIDN'T do the orthodontics at 7 or 8, what do you
think of your decision now? I am not in any way looking for
perfection, hollywood style, I just want her to have
straight teeth and not the gothic graveyard of her british
ancestors. The money is irrelevant if it works, and not if
it doesn't, if you follow me.
Thanks in advance for your advice
will offer my 2 cents. At 7, my son had a crossbite. The
orthdontist recommended braces just accross the top 4 front
teeth and extraction of one baby tooth to correct the
problem. I was hesitant to start at such a young age, and
if the issue had been solely cosmetic, I would not have
done it. That said, I was convinced that doing a smaller
amount of orthodontia early would prevent the need for a
greater (more painful) amount later because a) at 7 the
palette hasn't hardened yet and the teeth move more easily
and b) we would be able to prevent adult teeth from coming
He had the braces on for 8 months, his teeth straightened
up beautifully, and now he is in a retaininer with checkups
every 6 months. I think we made the right decision. If
you are not comfortable or convinced about the course of
action recommended, you should either wait and see, or get
a second opinion.
From my experience, orthodontics at around 7 is pretty common. My daughter
was one of the first in her class, but over the school year many followed. We
visited two orthodontists; they differed a bit on how many teeth to pull to get
started. The point of starting early is to limit the amount of time she has to
wear braces later. We'll see.
Please OH PLEASE get a second opinion, and a third, and a
fourth before getting braces for a 7 year old!
My parents did this and many dentists I have had have told
me that it was a complete mistake. The 7 year old can't
argue- I can!
All of my baby teeth were pulled, plus adult molars- leaving
me with four molars on top and bottom. This caused the jaw
to develop incorrectly. We shall NEVER know what my face was
supposed to look like. I have a tiny mouth and pointed
chin, but the understanding now is that the jaw grows to
accommodate the teeth, so taking the molars out before the
jaw had developed CHANGED my bone structure.
My former husband's jaw grew well into his 20's (normal male
growth is until around age 23), his early braces set his
bite for his small adolescent mouth- 10 years ago he was
told that the only way to correct it, would be to break his
jaw and start over. So he has an under-bite. Maybe there
have been more advancements since he looked into treatment,
but that's the last I heard.
Teens have a greater understanding of pain, and tools to
deal with it. At 7, I didn't. Treatments HURT! Tooth
extractions HURT!! Why were my parents doing this to me?
Didn't they love me? Why did I have to go and sit still
while the orthodontist stuck his GIANT male fingers in my
mouth every other month? As an adult I have overcome fear
of dental treatments, but TMJ that I'm sure was exacerbated
by having my mouth open large enough for his hands to get
into will never go away.
Please don't do this. Many orthodontists are just trying to
make a buck. My current dentist was trained at the
California Pacific School of Dentistry, where they advise
STRONGLY against early orthodontics. Please take your child
there for an evaluation before proceeding. There may be a
reason for doing this, but I really doubt it.
Abused for an aesthetic ideal
My son has a cross bite and two teeth that an x-ray shows are coming into the
roof of his mouth. The orthodontist we went to recommended a palate
expander, oral surgery (to access the as-yet-erupted teeth) and then braces to
use to pull the teeth into place. My question is, why go in and get the teeth
when they will erupt later? And what's up with ubiquitous use of palete
expanders? And why do children generally seem to start orthodontia so early
I guess what I'm looking for is an experienced or perhaps alternativey (less-is-
more-type) East Bay orthodontist who has been around for a while and get give
me a second opinion about how to proceed with my son. And also any
wisdom/reflection on the shift of orthodontic care to pre-double digits. Is there
any research saying early treatment leads to better long-term outcomes?
Doesn't time heal some things?
We would recommend a second opinion from Dr. Righellis,510-
482-0600, my daughter's Orthodontist. She has a different
problem but he's always been honest and given us straight
advice. He's in Oakland, Montclair, and sees many, many
kids. He was highly recommended to us when we did our
My daughter got her braces off three days ago, so I am
equipped to answer this question. First, earlier braces is
good. The kid's mouth is developing during the 9 and 10 year
old period, so braces will help it develop in the right
direction. The alternative is more braces, for longer, when
the kid is a teenager. The palate expanders improve the look
of the face very dramatically and allow teeth to get into
place evenly, without crowding. Crowding looks awful and
leads to difficulty with gums later on. I've also dealt with
periodontics in adults- you don't want to go there either.
Please go ahead with the braces, palate expanders and all.
I do recommend that you try to get another opinion and
obtain information on the implications of not doing anything
at this point. I don't have a specific orthodontist to
recommend, because like you, and just about every parent I
know in the East Bay, have 2 kids who went through all kinds
of orthodontic treatment. We did not follow the more
invasive recommendations from our orthodontist. We did not
extract our younger son's teeth (we did do it for our older
son) and did not surgically expand our older son's lower
jaw. These were both recommended to prevent problems in the
future. I have the benefit of having parents who are both
dentists (including a pediatric dentist) so we did have
someone we could run our options by. The older school
approach is to be less invasive and to do less extractions.
One of the reasons is that teeth actually help bone growth
and extracting teeth may inhibit bone growth. Another is the
''wait and see'' and do when you really need it approach. The
current style is more invasive and there are arguments on
this side as well (earlier intervention is better and
prevents more problems, like TMJ, later on). Personally, I
wonder if the financial benefits for those recommending the
procedures also influence the recommendations.
had it with orthodontic treatments
Run, don't walk to Robert Iezman's office in Berkeley
(around the corner from Peets on Walnut St. (510) 845-3511.
He will give you a complete evaluation and tell you what
needs to be done now, what can wait, what does/doesn't need
to be done. He will give this to you in writine, with a
full plan written out. I think he is conservative yet does
right by the children (and adults) that he sees. He will
not pull adult teeth to ''make room'' as many others will do
and has now been shown to cause problems down the line. My
daughter also had a challenging mouth and she is now
beautiful with a beautiful smile.
Sounds like you're ambivalent about orthodontics. That being
the case, I would wait and see. I've decided to try to avoid
orthodontics with my kids. I went through the usual
orthodontics stuff when I was a kid, and I ended up with a
bad outcome: my jaw shut down and moved to a new position,
such that my front teeth couldn't meet anymore, and I ended
up getting upper and lower jaw surgery and having my jaw
wired shut for 7 weeks when I was 17. I used permanent and
removable retainers for a decade after that, to keep my
teeth in their pretty, lined-up positions, and still, when I
stopped using the retainers, the teeth inevitably moved back
to crookedness. And now I have serious jaw joint issues from
the repositioning of my jaw. In other words, what a
disaster. I'm sure a lot of people have better outcomes, but
to my mind there need to be benefits beyond aesthetics for
the risks to be worth it. Also, thanks to my German husband,
I have a wider perspective on orthodontics now. This
obsession with straight teeth is an American thing. In
Europe, getting braces is the exception, not the rule. So
they have crooked teeth, so what? My husband has really
crooked teeth, but I couldn't care less.
So orthodontics are not in my plan for my kids. If they want
to do orthodontics as adults, that's up to them.
orthodontics is optional
My 8 year old daughter has been seen by two general dentist practitioners who
have differing opinions on what to do about her teeth. Apparently her jaw is
too small for her teeth. One view is to pull teeth out and the other is to
put appliances in to open her jaw up more.
I'm not excited about pulling teeth but I'm also not crazy about her having
appliances in her mouth until she is a teenager. We were told that once you
stop using the appliances the jaw will move back into place. At this point
her teeth are a bit crowded but not terribly. My inclination is to wait and
see and if we still have to do something when she is a teenager, we can do it
at that time, rather than starting now and doing it for so many years.
Curious about others experiences and advice.
I don't know if our situation is the same as yours but I thought I'd share our
experience. When our daughter was about 8 we visited an orthodontist for the first
time. He said her palette was too small to accommodate all her teeth and a crooked jaw
prevented her teeth from aligning. On his recommendation, we had a device installed in
the roof of her mouth that was adjusted periodically to open the palette as she grew.
I hope I'm describing this correctly--He said that the tissue in the middle of the
palette is malleable when children are young and that the device allows for the
palette to widen as the child grows. If you wait till the child is older, that tissue
fuses and at that point widening the palette would involve breaking the bone. I think
this is why now days it seems so many young children are seeing orthodontists before
they are teens. Our daughter's treatment consisted of two phases--the first being the
widening of the palette when she was young and the second bei!
ng more conventional braces when she was 12+. Additionally, she did have to have a
few teeth pulled, which didn't seem to be too painful for her. Her braces came off a
couple of months ago and she now has a beautiful smile. Good luck.
I needed about 5 teeth pulled as a child d/t a small mouth - I think I had it done
around age 11 or 12. They seem to do dental work a lot earlier now though. I
remember it really wasn't a big deal, I didn't have any problems with it physically or
psychologically. I think it would be much more difficult for a kid and their
self-image to have to wear appliances all the time. Pulling teeth is a little
uncomfortable, but you heal in a week or so. You may want to get a few opinions as
I've found dentists vary widely in the procedures they think are ''necessary''.
Let me tell you about my personal experience with this. I also have a small mouth.
As a kid, I had four teeth removed and then I got braces. Even after two years with
braces, once they came off, my teeth moved again because there still wasn't enough
room in my mouth. (so some teeth went behind others.) Now, 30 years later, I have gum
problems. The dentist told me that having the teeth removed and having the teeth move
so much to fill in the gaps basically made my teeth fit looser in my gums. So I am
more prone to pockets and that means deep cleanings and more risk of periodontal
disease. I have often wished the expanders were around when I was a kid. I feel like
I might have avoided these gum problems if I had done that instead. As for when to do
them, just this last weekend an orthodontist told me that you have to do expanders
when kids are young because that is when the bones in the mouth are more malleable.
She said its like the soft spots on a baby's head. You !
have similar soft spots in the roof of your mouth, but they do harden up by the teen
years. So you want to do the expanders while the bones are still soft. Maybe ask
your orthodontist about that and see if its true.
just my experience
At 8, daughter got a jaw-stretching appliance, as well as short-term braces (just for
a couple of months) just to straighten a few upper teeth. Despite not wearing it as
much as prescribed, the appliance seems to work remarkably well. Over the next couple
of years, her teeth looked great. When we temporarily went to another ortho (because
we were out of town), they were amazed at the results. Then, she started her
pre-pubescent growth spurt, and grew a lot. My impression (completely
non-professional) is that the appliance began to seem small, and should have been
changed or adjusted or something. The ortho never suggested this - just saw her every
one in a while, waiting for the ''next phase''. Finally, he said the teeth were too
crowded again, and she'd need several teeth pulled. We went for second opinions - one
said only jaw surgery would help in the long run, and pulling teeth would have bad
effects (can't remember the details). Another thought that maybe braces an!
d/or teeth-pulling would help some, but agreed that jaw surgery was the only way to
get everything right. However, neither thought the surgery was essential to function
at this time. In the end, we decided to leave her teeth as it (some crowding is
evident), and if she started to get any jaw pain, address it then. That was about 5
years ago. So far (age 18), no problems. I always suspected that the too-small
appliance wrecked the early progress, but then, what do I know...
former ortho mom
I have a small mouth but also happened to be the fifth child in a single parent home.
My mother could not afford orthodontia for me. I am now 40 years old and still suffer
the ill effects. My jaw placement is highly screwed up. I have TMJ. I suffer from
chronic headaches that can get quite severe. I have neck and facial pain and chewing
issues. Whenever I have work done on my teeth (i.e. fillings, root canal, etc) I have
bite issues that seem to take forever to resolve. I have had my jaw lock.
I don't know if the answer is to wait until she's a teen or start the process now, but
I would highly recommend that whenever you decide to do it, that you do do it. I
really wish that my issues were taken care of. I don't like the chronic pain and the
knowledge that there really is no resolution for me at this age. I would think that
pulling teeth would be the last consideration, that creating more room with apparatus
would be a good place to start and then you can decide if teeth still need to be
My son's dentist reccomended an orthodontist for the same reasons. The orthodontist
has pulled 3 baby teeth so far(on 2 separate visits) to make room for the permanent
teeth to come in straight. The xrays clearly showed the teeth were on their way down
crooked and they came in straight after the baby teeth were out. One of them dropped
into place (full sight) the very next day!
Personaly, when I was 12, I wanted / needed braces. My dentist pulled a permanant
tooth to make room for the others to spread out. I still have one very crooked tooth
and have trouble getting floss in & out...but you can't see where that tooth was & it
is all tight in there. Maybe he should have pulled 2?
I think preventing them coming in crooked is wiser. Less $ too!
BTW, my son was sore for a day but he could eat and he is big tooth 9 now! I think we
may not need braces...whhheeew!
I had to wear appliances when I was young due to a very narrow overcrowded mouth (A
Frankle and some other kind). It was annoying at the time, but it really helped
things a lot. My mouth did not revert back to its narrower size after I stopped
wearing the appliance. (And I stopped wearing my retainer post-braces pretty quickly
too, without major consequence. I wore mine mainly in middle school-- but my teeth
were insanely late (lost first baby tooth at 7, lost last baby tooth the day before I
started high school!) One advantage to waiting until she's a bit older is that she
may be more responsible with taking care of it (I expensively lost mine). One
disadvantage is that wearing the appliance, depending on the type, can be pretty
unflattering-- one of mine gave me ridiculous chipmunk cheeks. Having to wear
something like that in high school, when at the age to maybe start dating, etc., might
be really tough. good luck!
I already posted once (the growth-spurt-messed-things-up post), but wanted to
clarify that the ''appliance'' my daughter wore fit entirely inside her mouth,
and she only used it at home - never at school, etc. It made her look like her
mouth was a little large/puffy, but you couldn't actually see it unless her
mouth was wide open. She was supposed to sleep with it, but that made it hard
to breath, so she often didn't. So it's not like the ones that are visible on
the outside and worn at school. I don't know which kind is being suggested,
but that might make a difference in your decision.
Has anyone researched how effective palate expanders are
compared to traditional braces? My six year old has a normal
bite but his incoming adult teeth are a little bit crowded so
our new dentist wants to install palate expanders. I am wary
of this since it seems an extreme measure for such a small
problem (my son has no headaches or breathing problems) and
because I read some articles that said that braces would still
be needed in the teen years even with the Stage 1 expanders.
If you have any information or advice on this issue, I would be
most grateful if you would share it - Thank you!
Both our kids were fitted with Stage I expanders. My younger son
had expanders with the hopes that it might improve his breathing
capacity. He has a small jaw and a deviated septum and
allergies. There is no guarantee that Stage I will alleviate the
need for Stage II braces. Despite the Stage I work, my elder
still required braces for one crooked tooth; too early to tell
with the second. I was told that with Stage 1 expanders, one can
expect that braces will be in a shorter time (1yr) and usually
not necessary to remove any teeth since the jaw has been
enlarged. If you can afford it, any orthodontia work you do now,
rather than later, will be easier and less painful while the
child is still growing. It's important to have an orthodontist
that you can trust. Hope this helps. Signed,
Stage I Orthodontia Twice Over Parent Paying for ''Big Smiles''
Both of my children have had retainers at young ages (5, 8) and the benefits seem
worth it. My son wore his for six months primarily for a crossbite but also to make
more room for adult teeth. My daughter used one for more of the expander reasons
you state. It worked miracles for my son and now four years later he has the room for
all his teeth. For my daugher, it was also great - no need for pulling teeth or there not
being enough room. She did go on to have braces, and it is unrelated, though went
more smoothly because of the expanded mouth. We go to Berkeley Orthodontics and
think they are great.
I don't know if palate expanders have changed much but I had to
write and say when I was a child I had one (25 years ago) and
it was a TERRIBLE experience-I mean TRAUMATIC. My mother had to
sit on me and hold me down while she turned the key thing and
it was painful and horrid. I would border on saying it was PTSD
AND my teeth went back to exactly the way they were so it did
Sorry for the terrible story-I hope, REALLY hope, your child
does not really have to get this thing!
Our 6 yr old also has a palate expander for a crossbite correction and also to help
with crowded teeth though the crossbite is the main issue for our son. My
understanding is that the better the teeth grow in to begin with, the less correction
they will need as a teen, which means fewer braces, less time with braces, or both,
as a teen (eg: possibly braces for just one year instead of two!). I also have heard
that even after braces, teeth always want to migrate to where they grew in, which
means use of a retainer. But a lot of teens and adults never use their post-braces
retainers so their teeth migrate. If the teeth grow in better to begin with, there is
less potential for migration (because less correction was needed via the braces). I
don't regard palate expansion as drastic at all. The bones in the palate are not fused
until.... I forget, age 8 or 9 or 10 or something like that --- so they are maleable. So
the palate expander is making use of an opportunity to shape the mouth to receive
the adult teeth better. I like the palate expander approach. After 6 months we are
seeing positive results already with the palate expander. Our son has been
extremely cooperative in wearing his retainer and brace. I can only wonder if he
would be so cooperative as a teen!
Today at our 6mo cleaning our dentist recommended taking my son
in to an orthodontist to be checked because he has an over bite.
I have no doubt he will need braces... both my husband an I had
them, and all of our siblings (that is 8 kids total)... I just
wonder if 7.5 years old is too young to begin orthodontics. He
only has 6 adult teeth. When I was a kid we all started in 4th
grade... but I thought that people were beginning treatment
older now days (pendulum swing and all that). Am I off base, is
it common to start treatment this young? How young is too young?
Actually, it's quite the opposite. Orthodontics generally
place at YOUNGER ages than when we were kids. They kind of
figured out the obvious - -- if you correct the problem
kids are growing, it's easier than correcting after most of
their growing is done. Good luck! I bet it's easier than
was for you..
Your question brought a smile to my face as I remembered how
jealous I was of my 7 year-old brother's braces many moons
It wasn't truly a full set of braces but a preventive sort
brackets-on-the-front only rig. It was on briefly and he
needed actual orthodontics as a teenager because the teeth
been helped to grow in straight in the first place.
He's now 34 with a beautiful smile
really wanted braces
I can't speak to whether treatment can start at 7 years old,
our orthodontist sees children at 7 (when they have lost, at
least, the two top and two bottom teeth in the middle) to
evaluate. He says that he is looking for things like signs
crowding, palette size, tongue-thrusting, and jaw
I trust his judgement - he is considered an excellent
orthodontist - and he definitely not looking for income
Earlier the better
My son started his orthodontic journey right around his 8th
birthday, also with only
6 permanent teeth. In his case, he had an overbite and
crowding. Starting early can
be a benefit for some situations. We went to the
orthodontist that our dentist
recommended and we were able to get a free evaluation. It's
not unusual to start
early and it wouldn't hurt to just check it out. You can
always decide to wait
Our daughter, who had a pronounced underbite, started seeing
the orthodontist at age 6, during kindergarten. In her
the orthodontist said that although she didn't yet have all
adult teeth, they did not yet need the adult teeth for their
strategy, which had nothing to do with straightening her
(in which case you do want all the adult teeth present) but
everything to do with getting the alignment of her jaw
corrected while in the ''malleable'' stage. They did
that with the underbite it is always monitored throughout
body's growth stage (which extends through the late teens)
their opinion was that she was ready and able to benefit
I imagine treatment for an overbite might have a similar
rationale. In our case her molars were fitted with bands
her palate expanded with a fitted retainer, both of which
quite manageable even at her young age. THe retainer needed
daily manual adjustment, but that was easy once we got used
the process. Today she is almost 9 years old, has a normal
bite and is in a holding pattern with her ortho treatments--
once all her teeth come in we will start to straighten them.
During this holding pattern we are not paying anything--we
essentially paid for the work done to date, a ''pre-Phase
and see her ortho about once a quarter for 15 minute
I would recommend you get at least three opinions, ask many
questions about your options (later treatment vs. earlier)
come up with something that will also suit your child's
maturity and individual personality. Be sure you understand
the financial obligations and the doctor's willingness to
them with medical spending account if you plan to use one.
I am glad to hear that your dentist is sending you to an
orthodontist now instead of having you wait. I wish our
had not said, “You can wait to see an orthodontist until all
their adult teeth come in.” For my daughter this advice led
impacted 12-year molar that had to be pulled and several
due to crowding. For my son it meant a longer time expanding
pallet to correct his cross bite and he has some irregular
on some of his permanent teeth due to the untreated cross
It is hard to know the true cost of waiting but there is no
that early intervention would have
I certainly recommend getting treatment plans from several
different orthodontists. We go to Berkeley Orthodontics and
them, despite the high price tag, mostly because they didn’t
to pull a bunch of my daughter’s permanent teeth. Only the
impacted molar was extracted. We are half way thru treatment
both kids and are very happy with the care we have received.
There are also many other orthodontist recommendations on
I am sure your dentist has someone to refer you to.
Wish I knew then what I know now.
These days some kids get orthodonticsin mid elementary
cuz (from what I hear)their palette isn't set yet and moving
palette (expaning it, etc.) sets up the teeth better for
work. However, you should get at least three
from three different orthodontic offices. Does your dentist
like one or two in particular? It helps to have your kids
tooth proessionals get along. Opinions may varry as may
My son has had a consultation visit with two diferent
orthodontists in Montclair and we had received conflicting
advice. One says that he should have his palate stretched and
then get traditional braces, the other says no, he does not need
that step. My personal dentist says that palate stretching is a
common precedure these days, and leads to a stronger arch. But he
is not an ortho, and can not advise me on whether my son needs
this done. The other ortho says that she can stretch the palate a
little bit while having traditional braces on. Palate stretching
will add about one year onto his wearing braces and of course add
on many more appointments and discomfort. Traditional braces for
two years will be about 30% shorter, but will the outcomes be of
the same quality? This question nobody seemd to be able to answer.
Has anyone gone through is who can give me advice about what they
would or would not do over again?
We did do palate stretching with our daughter when she was 8.
In retrospect, I don't think some of it was necessary, so much
as cosmetic. I also felt that it changed her face in a way -
hard to describe, but I miss the more childish look she had
before. My son has had braces, retainers, etc. and I felt that
his were more necessary - big overbite, ''buck'' teeth, etc. I
had braces for years as a kid, and I hate to subject my kids to
the same experience, but I don't feel that parents are given
much information about the consequences of waiting or skipping
I had my palate stretched as a child and for me also, it
changed the way I look. Because of it I have an overbite and my
chin looks weaker, and the crowded tooth they were trying to
straighten went back to being crooked anyway. Of course I don't
know how my mouth would look if I hadn't had the procedure
done. My friend's daughters (now adults) had teeth extracted
instead and they look great.
I agree that palate stretching may change a child's jawline, but that may
be a good thing in the future. My orthodontist recommended palate
stretching for my son because his jaw was so small that the orthodontist
would have had to pull many teeth. He explained that when my son
reached adulthood, his jaw would look too small because of the loss of
teeth in childhood. My husband, who passed this small jaw problem
onto my son, had traditional orthodontia when he was a child. His jaw is
definitely too small for his face. I believe he would have a much
stronger jawline today had the palate stretching option been available to
him. I suggest talking with the orthodontist again and finding out why
he has suggested palate stretching. If it means losing fewer teeth, your
child may end up with a much nicer looking profile.
My son (nearly 9) is about to begin a course of orthodontic
treatment. I have no doubt about the need for it -- it's easy
to see the permanent teeth are not coming in right. However, I
have a few questions, which I'm hoping someone out there can
help me with. Neither my husband nor I ever needed any
I have a feeling that the orthodontist may be inclined to go
beyond what is necessary for the fixing and do cosmetic work (to
make things ''perfect'') that we wouldn't otherwise elect. I've
heard California is actually unique in the country in terms of
the high rate of orthodontic work. How can I tell if this is
my second, and MAJOR question is: I've also heard that
orthodontic work done early can be responsible for major
headache problems later. Does anyone have more information
I do not know if early orthodontic causes headaches or similar
problems. when I was 8 my orthodontist recomended that I get
braces and head gear. my mother said no, so I got the braces
when I was 12 (most of my friends got them around this age too.)
However I asked my dentist as an adult if there was anything I
could do for my overbite (I have nice straight teeth, but an
unsightly overbite) he told me that that the only way I could
have truly fixed my overbite would have been to get orthodontic
work around the age of 8 or 9 when the bones are still soft.
Once the bone hardens some procedures are impossible. get a
second opinion and find out exactly how they plan to shift and
straighten his teeth, and wich procedures can wait or are mabey
I have taken my 9 year old on 2 ortho consults with 2 different
recommendations. The first (Nelson/Meyer) was to use a
spreading type of retainer to make more room (althought he
already has fairly good spacing), and then braces for a short
time to pull the front teeth back together. The second
recommendation (Brennan)was to only use a retainer to pull in
the 2 front teeth since they are slightly flared and would be
better protected. When I told the second about the first
recommendation, he stated that that dentist follows a
theory/philosophy started by an orthodontic dentist in the mid-
west and that he doesn't necessarily agree. He feels that you
really have to wait to see how the permanent teeth come in.
Has anyone gone through this process? Any thoughts or ideas
would be greatly appreciated. Did I mention that the first path
was almost double the price?
I had a ''retainer'' that split my upper palet in the late 1970s
when I was 13 years old. Basically, it splits your upper jaw
apart and skull apart and, if held in place for 6 months,
cartiledge fills in and the retainer can be removed. My front
teeth were split apart far enough to fit lunch money in between
them (which was 60 cents back then !) If this is what the first
orthodontist is suggesting (and I couldn't quite tell if it
was), let me tell you how excruciatingly painful it was. Now
that I have beautiful, healthy teeth and gums and the likelihood
of keeping those into old age, it was worth it. However, I
really needed to have it done. If your son doesn't really need
to have it done (and usually it is because the permanent teeth
are too big for the jaw), I wouldn't do it. Get a third opinion
and have each of them explain to you in great detail exactly
what is involved, how it will help, why it is or is not needed,
and how painful it is. While orthdontia is likely to have
changed since then, the pain might not have.
My daughter (almost 8) is about to start an orthodontic treatment in dr.
Iezman's office in Berkeley. I was surprised how extensive the treatment
is: stretching her upper and lower jaw with braces and wearing a ''head
gear'' at night to stretch her lower jaw to stop an overbite. I looked at
the web site and didn't find answers to what exactly I'm uneasy about. How
does such treatment affect the whole body? Is there anything that can help
the body to deal with this kind of stress (homeopathy, cranial sacrum
therapy etc.) How does it affect the child's self image and self esteem?
(Right now she's excited about having braces) Any advice or shared
experience is appreciated, as I've had just a retainer.
I had exactly the same things your daughter will be going
through beginning when I was 7 years old. It was painful,
but I quickly realized that having beautiful straight teeth
and a jaw that would not give me migraines when I'm older
was MORE important. Because I started so young, all my
orthodontia was completed by the time I was 13 years old.
If you have a good doctor, who's friendly and fun to have
appointments with it's a lot easier on the child.
Otherwise, my belief is that the child fairs pretty well
with the ordeal (it's the parents who have a tougher time
emotionally and financially). Let your daughter know that
all the work/pain now really pays off later when she has
beautiful teeth. All my orthodontia(and the expense to my
parents) gave me an appreciation for keeping my teeth very
clean and cavity free through my teens into adulthood. Good
I have used the services of a cranial-sacral osteopath for
about seven years, now, because of migraine headache pain.
He is convinced that the orthodontic treatments, especially
headgear, that I had as a young teenager contributed (and
possibly caused) my migraine problems. There is no telling
what would have happened if I DIDN'T have braces, etc., but
it is a concern of mine for my kids. My daughter is eight
and will, I'm sure, have to have braces. I would highly
recommend taking your child to an osteopath trained in
cranial-sacral treatments once he/she has braces and head
I just took my 9.5 yr old son to an orthodontist, at the recommendation of
his dentist. After reviewing my son's mouth, history, xrays, etc. we were
told that my son has: a crossbite, a gap between his front teeth,
questionable room on the bottom, tongue thrust, and large tonsils (possibly
causing his mouth-breathing). He recommended: 1) braces on the top; 2) a
device on the bottom (this is like a retainer that doesn't come out for the
2-yr period of the treatment); 3) a retainer 2 years later; 4) a tongue
execise program and 5) referral to an ENT specialist about possible
tonsilectomy since mouth breathing can change the shape of the jaw (!!).
It's not really the money ($2500 for phase 1) that's making me balk (though
that will be alot for us). It's all of the intervention and trauma. My son
broke down in tears in the chair when the orthodontist first mentioned
braces (he was hoping to get by with much less).
Both my husband and I have cosmetically standard-looking teeth (straight,
etc.) and neither had braces (though my husband had a series of retainers
that kept getting chewed by the dog so his parents quit before he had
completed the entire program). We both had tongue thrust as kids (and I
suspect still do). My husband is a mouth breather, has a crossbite and a
small gap between his front teeth. He's absolutely fine!
Does anybody know the downside of not correcting things like crossbite?
mouthbreathing? tongue thrust? Have you heard of tonsilectomy to prevent
mouth breathing? I thought those went out in the 60's! What is the risk
of mouthbreathing compared to the risk of undergoing general anesthesia (if
they still do that)? And isn't there some presumed health-role for the
tonsils? We are going for the "consultation" with the orthodontist soon,
and I will ask these things. But I figure that's like asking a surgeon if
you need surgery. What additional questions should I ask? Is there a
Consumer's Reports type resource for assessing the import of specific
Any experience or information appreciated!
-- a Mom
Several weeks back I posted a message looking for other parents who have
questioned the need for orthodontic treatment. No responses were posted.
I've been asking all parents I know and have yet to find a single one who
opted not to follow the recommendations (in total) of their orthodontist,
(though I've talked to several who questioned it in hindsight, now that
their kids are young adults). I've searched on the web and found mostly
things posted by orthodontists--no objective consumer information. One
pretty good site (@bracesinfo.com) provides many specific questions you can
ask to determine whether an orthodontist is using state-of-the-art
practices, discusses risks to be aware of, and answers many questions--but
it never *questions* the need for orthodonture or suggests alternate/more
conservative approaches. It, too, is the site of an orthodontist. The
overall message I've read everywhere is that you'll be sorry if you put off
the decision to undergo treatment. I'm going for the full consultation soon
with my 9 year old. My concerns are not about money, but rather about the
need for such a high degree of intervention (physical, emotional, social)
and of knowing the risks of not following the recommendations from someone
who will not be profiting from the decision. Thought I'd give one more
try to see if there's any good advice or leads out there. Thanks!
You don't mention the opinon of your child. I had braces, as did my brother.
My teeth were not that bad, but his were. I know that it's painful and braces
aren't all that attractive, but since it was happening when all my friends
were going through the same thing, it made it that much easier. (Peer support)
Today, I am very happy that I had it done (though it wasn't my choice), and I
know adults who now are going through it, and finding it more troublesome that
it was for me as a teenager. I think it might be a good idea to seek the
opinion of your child, but know that their overall health is of top
importance. Orthodontia can help with many dental problems that could appear
later on (teeth grinding, migraines, etc).
Good luck! Melissa
Regarding orthodontia - My daughter had a retainer at about seven years
because her tongue wasn't fitting in her mouth and she was developing a
speech impediment. It did the trick but now they say she should have four
teeth pulled and get braces and, when I questioned the doctor further, he
kind of said it wasn't really necessary unless we wanted the "perfect"
smile. I opted NOT to go ahead with that barbarism. I watch her teeth
daily, though, and try to decide if they are getting worse or if it is
affecting her bite or speech. It would take quite a bit to get me to
continue with the process, although my parents did that to/for me as a
child because of buck teeth. Ask me again in a year. Barbara
Am also questioning the idea of braces. We are
using a retainer but braces are supposed to be in the future. The
retainer is to create space for a tooth that the ortho wanted removed by
surgery. My idea worked! My hygienist says that my lousy tooth enamel
(and poor color therefore) may be due to years of braces. Since teeth
often move back when the braces are removed, I am going to ask lots of
questions about the need. Peggy
My older son, now 16, was advised by Orthodontist X at age 9 to wear a
retainer for 3 years to "keep space open" for the braces he'd need at
age 12. (I think they wait till 12-13 because all the teeth aren't in
yet) Orthodontist X also told me he'd have to pull some teeth before
putting in braces. We got the retainer and it was lost within a
month. We never replaced it, due to a combination of negligence,
procrastination, and tight finances. Three years later, at 12, he did
get braces from a different orthodontist - John Merchant in Berkeley,
whom I like a lot. He wore them for about a year and a half. No teeth
were pulled. His teeth look great now. (Unfortunately he "forgot" to
wear the after-braces retainer at night as advised, and his teeth
shifted back out of alignment a few months after the braces came
off. So, the braces went back on for 6 more months and he got some
sort of glued-in retainer behind his teeth after that. A word to the
My younger son has much worse teeth. For a while he had a double row
of teeth all the way around - baby teeth behind the adult teeth. When
he was 9, I asked Dr. Merchant about a retainer because our regular
dentist was bugging me about it. Dr. Merchant said it's too early to
tell. The teeth are still shifting around a lot at that age.
Sometimes everything gets sorted out on its own. But at 12, we visited
the ortho again, and it was time for braces. In a big way.
Dr. Merchant told me he'd have to pull a tooth to make room. I asked
him if there were any way to avoid that. He thought for a minute and
worked out another fix that didn't involve tooth pulling.
So I concluded that:
1. a retainer at 9 isn't necessarily necessary
2. you don't always have to pull teeth
3. get a second opinion
In response to the mom who's questioning getting the orthodontic work
being recommended for her son, I wanted to relay a quick story about
my husband. When he was a young teen, orthodontics were recommended
to both straighten his teeth and to correct the curve in his gum line
(which is quite noticable when he smiles). His parents decided that
it was mostly "cosmetic" and way too expensive, and did nothing to
correct his teeth. For many years after he was extremely reluctant to
smile broadly, and was in general, embarassed about the way his teeth
looked. I convinced him that it was OK to smile (and be happy!), but
he still hasn't fixed his teeth. The crookedness of the gum line
affects the way his upper and lower teeth line up which has caused him
some problems and pain. I doubt very much that he'll ever get it
taken care of because it seems too adolescent to have braces now (plus
it is pretty expensive). I sure wish his folks had taken proper care
of it when he was of an age where it's not uncommon and not that big
of a deal. (I had braces for two years and didn't find it that
traumatic.) Of course, your son's situation may be entirely
different. You seem to be putting a lot of thought into the whole
thing which I think bodes well for him.
Regarding orthodontia - to look at my smile, people think that I have
perfect teeth when in fact I have a cross bite - my back teeth don't line
up properly. Despite my dentist diagnosing this in childhood, my parents
never went ahead with the braces because my teeth looked great. However,
now at 40, I've had 5 crowns on my molars and due for another. All the
crowns are due to the way my upper and lower teeth hit each other. So know
that what you choose to put off now could have a payback time when your
child is older!
I would like to confirm two things that I were mentioned in other posts.
#1) Getting braces, retainers, etc. is not too bad when everyone else is
doing it. I started seeing an orthodontist when I was in the 4th grade.
Everyone else was going at the same time so even if you had to wear the
ugly head gear, you were not alone... I remember we all thought it was cool
to have retainers too. I know that my friends who didn't get the work done
until High School were a lot more self conscious about their "appliances"
because they were a lot more focused on their looks by then.
#2) It is a lot harder to do it when you are an adult. My husband was the
youngest of 5, and his parents never quite got around to taking him to the
orthodontist as a kid. By the time we met he was 16, and so self conscious
of his teeth that he never smiled for pictures and rarely would smile in
public. About 2 years before our wedding he finally got around to asking
his parents to take care of his teeth. Because all of his teeth had grown
in and were set he had to have 6 pulled... the dr said if he had been
younger and still growing he may have been able to make corrections without
the extractions. Also, because he was already 20 by then he was very self
conscious of his teeth. Fortunately he was able to have the clear braces so
they would not be as noticeable, but he hated to wear his rubber bands...
when you are 10 and a rubber band shoots out of your mouth while you are
talking it is cool, when you are 20 it is just plain humiliating. Now that
all the work is over he is happy, and glad that it was done, but he says he
would have rather gone through it when he was a kid. (Just a note... he
also had the permanent wire installed instead of a retainer after the
braces were removed... not because he lost one but because the dentist was
trying to be sensitive to his need as an "older patient" to not have extra
stuff hanging out of his mouth. It seems to be working great, nothing has
Despite all of this I think it is great to question the orthodontist about
the whys and hows of his treatment plan. I think they often want to get
your mouth to be "perfect" when you would be satisfied with just straight
teeth and not care about your bite, or whatever else they want to correct.
I have a friend who had to take anti tongue thrusting classes from her
orthodontist for 2 years... she never could figure out what he was talking
As I understand it, the reason so many folks have to have orthodontics is
because often the size of the jaw is too small for the teeth. This is sort
of an evolutionary miscalculation. It is also why we generally have our
wisdom teeth out. Orthodontia has advanced a lot since most of us were
kids. They can do projections that will show how the kid will look with
and without treatment--this would be helpful in making the decision to do
it, especially if you think the treatment is only for cosmetic reasons.
You can see how cosmetic. You can try to consider how your kid might feel
about it. If you travel to countries where treatment is not common, there
are very clear examples of the type of thing that results. With these
highly accurate projection models, they can now treat kids at an earlier
age, when the size or shape of the jaw can be influenced. This prevents
the need for extraction of crowded teeth and long-term braces later on --
also a lot of jaw and dental problems. I really suggest that if a dentist
or someone else suggests an orthodontist, you at least go as far as the
point where you have a precise diagnosis and projection. It is really not
fair to your kid to do otherwise, in my opinion.
Questions about Teens & Pre-Teens
My son lost his retainer so we have the replace it. The
orthodontist is charging us $350 even though he still has
the original mold. This feels like gouging to me. Is this a
reasonable charge? Should I shop around for another
orthodontist to replace the retainer?
I feel your pain re: the high cost of a replacement retainer. We recently had
replace our 8-year-old's piece...yes...to the tune of $350. Seems that's the
rate. And guess what? Just two days ago I was informed at my daughter's
checkup that if she keeps shifting the retainer around in her mouth, we're in
another broken retainer and $350. Best advice I can give you: breathe deeply
try to address what caused the problem. Best of luck!
Since the original doc has the molds to make the new
retainer, I can't imagine a new doc would charge less.
That's not too much for a replacement retainer. They take a
lot of work to make correctly. It would be a bad idea to
switch orthodontists at this point.
My son recently broke his retainer and I had to pay to have
it replaced. Cost of replacing it (and this was without
My son lost his 4th retainer within 6 weeks. Each costs
$200 to replace. He lost one while sick (vomited in the
toilet and flushed it away). He lost another on vacation.
The most recent replacement was picked up today then lost
within 6 hours. The whole family spent an hour looking for
it and haven't found it. My son was recently diagnosed
with ADHD. We're considering starting meds. I'm wondering
if they will help. I don't know if the ADHD is
contributing but I'm exasperated. Can I request permanente
retainers? We honestly can't afford to keep replacing
them. I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks.
I hope that you are talking about dental type retainers. If
the option of not buying another retainer isn't something
you are willing to consider, perhaps teaching him a routine
of where (a retainer keeper, inside a back pack, a clip
attached to his shirt - similar to the ones attached to
pacifiers) to place his retainer each time he removes it
would help and become a habit, but if he does have ADHD,
then I do not know how difficult doing that would be.
I was 16/17 when I finally got my braces removed and
received my retainer...2 weeks later, I lost it! I searched
everywhere and enlisted friends even. I was so panicked but
my parents did not and could not afford to fork over money
to replace it but asked if I wanted to with my own money I
had saved and worked for. I of course didnt, but my teeth
are fairly straight, I floss & brush my teeth regularly.
I often object to Orthodontists who agree to put on braces
younger than 14. It just doesn't make sense. If anything -
in order for teeth to be and remain straight, one would have
to wear a retainer practically forever well into adulthood.
And, is having a child with straight teeth really a priority
for you? I think assessing what your needs and wants are for
your kids would be helpful. If its costing you too much
money, worry, stress and energy, then maybe it's time to ask
yourself if its truly worth it. After all having good dental
hygiene doesn't mean having straight teeth.
lost a retainer too
gee you have my total sympathies. My son began braces
around this time and I dont' REMEMBER how many retainers
he lost!!!!And he certainly couldn't blame any ADHD
stuff - he still loses everything! What to do? perhaps
emphasize a routine & a specific place to put it every
single night. Good news - my lose-everything 10 year old
is a fabulous UCLA grad with a generous, compassionate
heart and a fabulous son/young man/citizen. Good luck!
How do I know if braces are truly needed? My children, ages 13, 13 and
14, have all been recommended for treatment by an orthodontist. Two
of the three need to have teeth pulled first. None of them have any
extreme issues-- overbites, and in one case, a bite that doesn't quite
After each exam, I asked the orthodontist about the likely consequence
of not doing the treatment. In each case, the bottom line answer was
that down the line as adults, they might have problems with their gums
which might lead to problems holding the teeth in place. Of course,
the orthodontist couldn't predict when or say with certainty if this
was the case. I did let him know that we were interested in medical,
rather than small cosmetic reasons, for doing treatment.
I got a second opinion, and the costs varied wildly, but not the
''diagnoses''. My husband has a similar overbite to our kids, but has
not had any teeth fall out yet!
So, given that most of us are born without perfectly straight teeth
and perfect bites, and I can see this is the case with my kids, how do
I judge if this is something we ''need'' to do vs. something that many
American families that can afford it are doing it these days? Part of
what rubs me the wrong way about the orthodontist's take home
materials is talk about the self-esteem benefits of a great smile. I
am thinking the money might be better put toward the kids' college
funds. That said, we would certainly invest in treatment if it would
improve the health of our kids in the future.
Thanks in advance for any insight into the world of orthodonture.
I have 4 kids - all now in dental programs that are holistic rather than
simply focussed on ''straight teeth'' which frankly was my sole objective at
first. Rather than write a tome in an attempt to convince you of the
benefits of attending to your kids' mouths I will direct you to two extremely
well-respected professionals who achieve straight teeth and also consider
the important role the mouth plays in all aspects of health ( breathing,
posture, mobility, speech)
when we do not attend to overbites , down the line on life, this
misalignment can result in tmj as well as some other structurally influenced
We consult with a myofunctional facial therapist who has greatly reduced
all 4 kids' overbites through mouth devices made of silicone ( no braces)
she directs the kids in some exercises as well. She's phenomenal and
effective and far cheaper than traditional ortho. Kathy Winslow (650)712-
1615. She travels around the bay area serving kids and adults she is in
Berkeley 2 Wednesdays per week. We are also using Dr. Sandor Hites in
Berkeley 845-6494 for braces for one kid, and a different sort of gentler
device called an ALF lightwire device. Dr Hites treats patients from a
holistic perspective, he's interested in your kids' diets, posture, functional
breathing and mood. He's a kind man, father of 5!, and excellent dentist/
orthodontist. I would suggest meeting both practitioners to get another
take on what dental work of any kind does to/ for kids. They have each
opened my eyes to so much about our bodies and my 4 kids are all
functioning and looking better too. Good luck! Ask around and do you
I completely agree with your stance. Let the kids figure out how they feel
about their own teeth later. They can always opt for braces as adults if
they feel they need them. College money is KEY, though, not optional. Go
the pleasant, painless route of education and self esteem will follow.
Any smile is beautiful, as long as it is genuine.
Our daughter just finished up the braces and I had them as
well years ago. Kids are usually steered towards
orthodontics when the family dentist observes a problem or
concern. Those concerns generally have involved issues of
adult teeth threatened of not coming in right, impacted
wisdom teeth pushing things the wrong way, crowding, and
over or under-bites. My daughter and I had teeth pulled
first before braces. In her case she was born with a small
mouth and too many teeth to fit in it so she needed a couple
adult teeth taken out of the picture as well. There is a lot
to be said about a smile being your most important asset and
you can try it out yourself. Next time you are on a busy
sidewalk try going a few blocks with a beaming smile and a
few blocks with a non-smile. You will see a huge difference
from those you pass by. A great dentist to see for an
initial opinion is Robert Peri in Berkeley. He refers to a
good orthodontist, Dr. Eisman both near Alta Bates. My dad
had 5 children, 3 of us got braces, two didn't so it wasn't
decided just for perfection. Around 13 is a good time to get
things on the right track as it is supposedly more
problematic to try to fix things later in life after all the
adult teeth have come in compromised. Good luck sorting your
happy with nice teeth
My husband and I also questioned the need for our older
child to have braces, being unwilling to subject her (and
us) to the long procedure and the pulling of 4 of her
healthy teeth. Her teeth were fine -- not perfect, but fine.
In our parents' generation, she would have had ''a beautiful
smile'' without braces. In today's day and age however,
unless all her teeth are 100% in line, that would not be
We visited 3 different orthodontists and heard from each one
of them how important it was to have that ''perfect smile''.
Of course, we understand that their livelihood depends on
it.... but we wanted to know how important it really was to
her health as opposed to her looks. In the end, we
(reluctantly) went ahead with her treatment because it
seemed that it may seriously affect her bite in the future
if we didn't. Along with the significant monetary issue, the
braces also were a substantial amount of time and effort for
the child and the parent for about 2 years!
However, a similar issue came up recently when her wisdom
teeth started to come in a few years later. Both the
dentists that we consulted said that her wisdom teeth
(growing in perfectly in line with her other teeth, and with
enough room in her jaw) ''might cause trouble later in life
if they were difficult to floss''. We (and she) thought that
was not reason enough and decided not to have her wisdom
teeth removed, understanding that if she has a problem
later, removing them then would be an option, more difficult
than right now. We were also swayed by the fact that both my
husband and I still have our wisdom teeth, and they haven't
been a problem yet
In the end, I think that it is your decision and your
child's ... some children feel ''left out'' if they don't have
braces, others may feel embarrassed about their slightly
less-than-perfect teeth compared to their friends'. See what
works best for you and your child.
''perfect smile at what cost??''
Orthodontics is not just about ''the perfect smile''. I had some orthodontic
as a child (a retainer, mostly), but should have had braces. I was left with
that are so out of alignment, I can only chew on one side of my mouth, and my
face is visible crooked. I am now looking into getting braces--in my 40s.
Wish I'd had braces when I was young
We are ''new'' to the braces world - our 11 yr old son has an
adult lower canine that is growing at a 40 degree angle, so the
plan is to remove his baby canine and put braces on his lower 4
front teeth(14-16 months) - all to make more space for his adult
canine to hopefully come in straight. Price tag is $3200.
Wondering if this is a reasonable cost? A neighbor has said that
this is what she paid for her daughter's full set of braces. They
(oral surgeon)also might have to put an anchor on the canine and
coax it straight via a ''chain''...not included in the $3200.
Braces are very expensive. I would also look into getting a few opinions
too. I love my daughter's orthodontist. Dr. Gary Fredrickson. He's in
Berkeley, here's the number, (510) 526-7546. He does ''Functional
Orthodontics,'' which is a slightly different approach to it. It looks at
the whole health of the jaw and teeth, not just getting the teeth
straight. My daughter had TMJ when she started braces and he found ways to
relieve the pain while continuing the treatment.
best of luck.
Are there any dentists out there that don't recommend braces for
every child that comes through their office? I know I'm not an
authority on orthodontistry, but I really feel like I'd like to
go to a pediatric dentist that was open to a parent's decision
against having their kids get braces.
My parents and my husband's parents didn't have braces, my
husband didn't have braces, I had braces twice (yes, twice, I
had an orthodontist who tried putting them on me when I was in
2nd grade & then realized I needed them again in 6th grade --
all out of pocket for my parents too!) and I honestly can't see
why my daughter needs them.
She doesn't have any type of overbite and this whole notion of
that they aren't biting down properly seems ridiculous. If they
can chew food, I think they're fine! Plus, lately everyone I've
talked to about their kids' braces says that the ortho keeps
telling them that they need to stay on longer than originally
I've yet to hear a story about someone getting them off earlier.
It sounds to me like a nice way to keep the income going for the
ortho office. Lastly, I've heard that the rate of cavities and
tooth decay goes up after having braces -- all those teeth
squeezed together I guess makes it harder to get clean in
Anyway, thanks for letting me rant. I'm all for toothcare. We
all brush and floss. I'm just very hestitant about the braces.
If I were you, I would relax around the braces issue. Get a
couple of opinions and just go with one. The orthodontists are
REALLY not out to milk you. The ones we saw (two kids) charge a
set fee at the beginning and will see your kids forever - they're
not charging a fee every time you go in. Our kids had braces put
on in middle school, off in high school, and now the eldest is 21,
finishing college, and they're STILL calling to make follow-up
appts. for her. I'm about to say, Alright, already. Believe me,
we've gotten MORE than our money's worth out of them. Relax.
mom of beautiful girls
We have been going to the same orthodontist for 5 years.
My daughter had braces on the front teeth and a retainer.
Yesterday, we went to the orthodontist and they had us fill
in a bunch of paper work. We were just there 3 months ago
and go about every 3-6 months. They treated us like we
were new to the practice. They then had us sit down with a
financial person and said that the treatment would be $5100
and that we'd exhausted our previous insurance and would
likely need to pay cash! We are really surprised by this
because our previous payment we thought covered the entire
treatment! Is this usual and customary? Thank you
anon kid with braces mom
After our daughter had full braces and a retainer when she
was around 12, the orthodontist said that she probably would
have to do the braces again in her late teens, and we should
keep coming every 6 months. Instead, we quit cold turkey.
That was 5 years ago. If you don't want to do that, I'd
recommend a second, if not a third opinion.
I've had the same experience with both of my sons. We have
no orthodontic insurance, so we paid around $5000 for each
boy to have braces and/or a retainer, only to be told at
the end of treatment that more work was needed for an
additional $5000 or so for each boy. With the first son,
we decided to go ahead with the treatment after we got a
second opinion from another orthodontist, but we're
hesitating with the second son. I'm skeptical about the
level of perfection sought with orthodontia these days,
which is certainly greater than when I was younger. I'm
also concerned where there is no insurance involved,
because there's no third party with some expertise
evaluating the necessity of the treatment. I feel a little
taken advantaged of. So, I suppose my response would be
only to echo your concern on this matter.
Sounds like we have the same orthodontist. Same thing
happened to us, same price quoted. We have also used up
our ortho allowance through our dental plan. Are there any
parents out there who've been through this, gotten a
second opinion, and found a less expensive alternative?
My daughter just got braces today. I had assumed that the
orthodontist would be doing all of the work, but his
assistants actually did about 80% of the actual fitting of
the braces. Is this what should I expect? Do most people
have this experience or should I switch orthodontists? He
had about seven chairs in a row lined up, filled with
patients and would spend about a few minutes with each
patient just checking the assistant's work. This makes me
very nervous.Should I just chill, or are my concerns
valid? The orthodontist with whom we had an appointment to
see wasn't even there. He had another Dr. there who we
were not even introduced to. Thanks for sharing any of
new to braces
The orthodontist's office you describe matches exactly the place
my son got
his braces: multiple chairs, assistants doing most of the work,
introducing themselves, and sometimes a different dentist than
expected. I, too, have no other experience with orthodontists
and got used to
everything (after the initial surprise) except their not
The first time it happened, I asked, ''And you are...?'' and he
himself. Someone should tell them they (the dentists) should
themselves the first time and wear name tags anyway (not just
This office was recommended by my son's dentist, whom I trust
and my son's teeth are perfect, so if it's the same place (write
me privately) I
don't think you have anything to worry about.
Your concerns are valid - trust your instincts about this! I
went to such an
orthodontist set up like that during my teen years, and if you
saw my teeth
now - you, like every dentist who has worked on my teeth, would
you ever considered having orthodontal work? In other words,
that lack of
consistency and commitment led to a very poor outcome. I truly
the cracks. ...Many orthodontal offices practice like you have
(Hersey factory style)......
Needless to say, when it was time for my daughter to get braces,
opened my mouth (literally, and figuratively) and said that due
happened to me, I wanted her to consistently see just one of
everytime I set up an appointment, it was on a day when THAT
was present. And, he did review what the assistants had done.
I spoke to
him almost every appointment.
And, when all was (said and) done: my daughter's teeth are
and I feel good that unlike my mom who didn't listen, or look,
at what was
happening, I advocated for her and got a good outcome.
My child just went through 5 years of orthodontia and her
braces came off last month. That was the teetch-moving
phase and now she'll be in a stabilizing phase for 2+/-
years. Not having had braces myself, I was inquisitive and
had to ask questions about process and progress and
expectations. Don't be afraid to ask these questions of
your orthodontist or to get a second opinion before you
sign a contract for treatment. You will become a better
custodian and you will build confidence in the ortho.
Anyway, the orthodonist she goes to always had an
assistant do much of the work. I was okay with that. It's
like having a dental hygenist clean your teeth. Assistants
are trained for this job.
ALWAYS, the orthodonist should inspect the work and
check/notate the chart. Regardless of how many
orthodontists are in the office, they need to keep
accurate, detailed records on your kids chart. I can't
imagine even the same ortho. keeping track of a patient's
progress over a couple years without keeping records.
A bit of an aside, I did change her dentist because she
would go in for a twice-year cleaning and only see the
dental hygenist. They said the dentist only needs to look
at her once a year. I didn't like that response. I have
ALWAYS had my dental cleaning followed by a brief dental
checkup. It has always seemed to me, an important part of
dental care for my teeth and health. Plus, how is a
dentist to know if their employees are doing their job?
Essentially, you need to build trust with your ortho by
asking questions when you are uncertain about something.
My 14-year-old daughter's orthodontist has recommended jaw-
lengthening surgery involving a year of braces, followed by a
three-day surgery (the jaw is cut, lengthened and screwed
back together) and another year of braces. This is intended
to correct an anomaly in her bite, because her bottom molars
don't seem to be aligning with the top.
This seems particularly drastic and met with a
resounding refusal from my daughter, not surprisingly. I'm
looking for advice from anyone who has had any experience
with this procedure.
Strangely enough, the alternative course of action
according to the orthodontists was to do nothing at all.
I think you are doing the right thing right now - asking others for
advice. Seems like every child needs braces right now. I needed braces
as a child, and did not have the work done until I was in my late
twenties. It just so happens that I was also recommended for jaw
lengthening surgery - so the procedure has been done for a while - this
was over twenty years ago. My orthodontist need two opinions from oral
surgeons for my insurance to pay for it. The second one said I did not
need it, I had just enought room for everything to work.
My teeth came out fine but I think my jaw would have had better
alignment if I had had a successful surgery. Poor alignment has meant
jaw tension, excessive wear on one side and other problems.
I recommend seeking more opinions from orthodontists and oral
surgeons - often there is no charge for consultation - always ask to
Discuss the information with your child, if it really looks like surgery is the best route, maybe you will find someone who had the surgery to talk about it with your child. Often the orthodontist will provide patient/parent as well as parent time for questions. Sometimes information can help the decision process.
Any surgery has risks especially from anesthesia so finding out what
would be gained vs missed is important.
We had a great experience with Dr. Brennan (formerly Brehnan) DMD, MS
, 591 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 510 525-1772.
Hello, I found this in the archives: ''Orthodontia has advanced a
lot since most of us were kids. They can do projections that
will show how the kid will look with and without treatment--this
would be helpful in making the decision to do it, especially if
you think the treatment is only for cosmetic reasons. You can
see how cosmetic. You can try to consider how your kid might
feel about it. If you travel to countries where treatment is not
common, there are very clear examples of the type of thing that
results. With these highly accurate projection models, they can
now treat kids at an earlier age, when the size or shape of the
jaw can be influenced.''
Can anyone tell me a place (or places!) that does these
projections? My sitution is the one described in this post--I
need to understand ''how cosmetic'' the proposed work is for my
child's teeth. I really appreciate any further information on
L T R
Brad Irving, in Montclair, did this when we went in with my son.
I think most orthodontists have the technology to do this now.
Just a piece of advice:
Go to more than one ortho for a quote. The first guy we saw
recommended taking out multiple teeth and full braces.
Brad used a series of retainers graduated in size which has
worked amazingly well. Much easier on the kids, much, much, much
less expensive. In fact, we are fortunate to have the entire
thing paid by dental insurance.
My 12-year-old daughter has been advised that some of her new
permanent teeth are too tight and that she should possibly have four
bicuspids pulled and definitely get braces, followed by retainers: a
three-to-four year project costing about $5400. When I asked how her
teeth would benefit by this process, I was told that 1) it would at
least partially correct her mild overbite, 2) there would be less
uneven wear on her teeth in future, and 3) it would look better.
I want her teeth and gums to be healthy, now and in future, but I
distrust the American obsession with perfect, even, Osmondesque
teeth. Any thoughts/advice out there about this fascinating topic? And
would anyone recommend a good orthodontist--one you've worked with and
really trust, preferably in the Berkeley area--from whom we could get
a second opinion?
Hi Melanie -- I wasn't aware that any of us actually want to look
like the Osmonds (eewwww!) but I can tell you that Dr. Iezman, on
Walnut Street near the North Berkeley Peet's is an Orthodontist we
trust, and that we're doing braces because he came up with logical
dental reasons for it, not just cosmetic. (One of the conditions he
mentioned explained to me why my molars have cracked one-by-one over
the last 15 years ...and crowns cost more than braces... but of
course its me paying and not my mom.) His number is in the book, and
he would look at your daughter for free (as I recall). His office is
busy enough that he wouldn't take you on just to pay the rent...
To the parent who wanted orthodontia information: I would speak to a
number of other orthodontists before you have any teeth pulled. There
is research out now that shows having teeth pulled will/may cause
problems later on. If at all possible, you should look to someone who
can do the work without pulling any teeth. At age 12, it may be too
late to have work done to create room without pulling teeth. My
daughter and several others we know see Dr. Iezeman in Berkeley. He
gave us a thorough written treatment plan and has kept to it. The
costs were explained, they worked with us so we could maximize the
medical spending account offered by my employer and my daughter really
likes him and his staff. Several others we went to did not feel this
good, one in fact just wrote Phase I, Phase II on a piece of paper
with amounts as his extimate and treatment plan, he wasn't a certified
orthodontist and his prices were more than Dr. Iezeman (don't remember
his name, on Gilman, across from ! Ti! ddlywinks). So look around,
see if you can find someone who can create room without pulling
teeth. My husband has very crowded teeth, his family did not have
money for orthodontia, it looks awful, and he wishes now he could do
it. As an adult it would be very painful and expensive. So think long
and hard before you choose to not do so.
I checked out the Berkeley orthodontic scene about a year ago. The issue
also was too crowded teeth and overbite. There a two schools: one thinks
pulling teeth is necessary, the other thinks it's more or less a crime. Out
of the four orthodontists I checked I picked Dr. Broderson on Hopkins. He
has a very gentle and unique approach, different from all the others. He was
the most expensive though, but I think it's worth it after a year of
treatment so far; and with the payment plan they offered, it's doable for
us. It's working well so far. Another 'low key' on aesthetics orthodontist
seemed to be Dr. Merchant on Regent St., he was less expensive too, but we
wanted to go for the best fix possible.
Orthodontists recommended that my daughter have 4 of her teeth
pulled, but I objected and they were pulled. Her teeth look
beautiful now and I can't see why they wanted to pull those teeth.
I am also anti "everyone in America has to have perfect teeth", but
we went ahead with the whole braces routine anyway and now she has
perfect teeth. We go to Dr. Iezman, who supported our decision.
Questions about Adults
I've noticed in the past 5 years that one of my front teeth has
been slowly moving forward. My dentist confirmed it, and I've
decided to look into braces to stop the shift.
I need 6 braces across the top front for anywhere from 9mos to a
year (bot my dentist and the ortho I consulted said this). But,
the price-- $3800! For not even a complete set...is this
outrageous, or am I just in denial? There's no removal of teeth
needed or anything.
I guess I'm wondering what I should be paying? Is there some sort
of guideline? Are there major differences between orthos?
The estimate for treatment I received was from Seth Osterman in
Berkeley, if that helps.
Any advice would be appreciated, since I'm clueless here.
--The Tooth Fairy
That is just about what I paid for bottom braces last year (and I
already had braces in high-school!!) My daughter's (top braces) were
2900.00 and when I asked why mine were so much more my orthodontist said
it was because as an adult, this was a ''permanent'' alignment vs.
children who are growing and seem to often need a 2nd set when they're
teens. It's so expensive but I too was trying to prevent bigger problems
down the road. Cost included 1 retainer and all visits and follow-up but
not the x-rays.
Out Serious Money After Braces
i am considering braces for myself. initially, i hoped to have
invisalign braces (friends of mine have had great success with
invisalign), but after my initial consultations with two
orthodontists, i was told that braces would be most effective
for me. actually some dentists are willing to do invisalign
for part of treatment then place traditional braces on in the
end. so i have opted to go with braces only. apparently,
invisalign braces can only rotate teeth -- my teeth will
require more shifting. i am considering using dr. tanner and
reichold in concord versus dr. lieber in walnut creek versus
dr. timothy pearson in walnut creek. do any of you have
recommendations, positive or negative, on these dentists? was
treatment as stated, were there major ''bumps'' along the
and on a more general note, was having braces as an adult
manageable? did your teeth tolerate braces well? as a busy
parent, did you honestly have sufficient time to perform the
oral hygiene necessary to keep your braces clean? did you
require having your teeth shaved to make room for your
straighter teeth? how was that experience? and was the
cosmetic and functional outcome to your liking? basically, was
the experience worth it to you overall?
hoping to take the plunge
No knowledge of the orthodontists you mention, but, yes, having braces as an adult was manageable, my teeth tolerated braces easily, and I'm very, very glad I did it. It wasn't really all that hard to find the time to keep teeth and braces clean.
Regarding the appearance (since I assume that was why you were looking into invasalign), I had clear brackets and even though my doctor used the regular silvery wire, the clear brackets meant less of a ''metal mouth'' look. My only question for you would be that, since you asked about having the time for oral hygiene, do you have the time for the appointments? At one point, I was going in weekly for 5'' tuneups/tweaks as the doctor was rotating & shifting teeth. You might want to consider travel time, frequency of visits, and doctor's tolerance for children (unless you have alternative childcare arranged) in choosing who to use. But, go for it!
I am almost 30 and about 1 year into my braces treatment. I had them put on when my son was 2 months old and I've found that although I do have the time to floss every day, I often choose not to (don't tell my ortho!!). Instead of shaving my teeth, I had a few teeth pulled which was fine. I had the braces on for about 6 weeks and then had my teeth pulled, and on a day when my husband was out of town so I was alone with the baby. The worst part for me was getting the bands put on around my molars in the back. That was paaaaainful. It was the only time I remember thinking ''whyyyy did I decide to do this??'' But now I'm very happy that I did. My teeth are looking great (not done yet!) and I'm planning to be very responsible in their upkeep since I know exactly how much this all cost me. :) I teach classes to adults (almost always older than me) and at first I was a little self concious that they would think I'm soooo young (given my young look and now braces!!!) but !
nothing has really been different.
-almost 30 and finally with straight teeth!!
YES, do it! I couldn't be happier since I got braces. I am a high school teacher, and had braces for two years a few years ago, when I was 29-31. My students were incredibly supportive (they had braces, too!) and honestly, I think no one thought it was weird at all. I eventually got used to them and they didn't disrupt my life that much. The occasional toothaches were relieved by ibuprofen, so it really wasn't a problem. And my orthodontist also said what yours did: get the ''real thing,'' forget about the invisible ones. They take longer, they're not as effective, and no one but you cares about it, anyway. And it's SO WORTH IT! I am never self-conscious about my smile, and in fact am told all that time how attractive my smile is with straight, white teeth. (Thanks to Crest Whitening Strips, too!) Go for it -- it's totally worth it.
And the added benefit is that now you will have more compassion for your kids and friends who go through similar situations. You can even get cool colored rubber rings for an extra kick!
i can't comment about the doctors you mentioned, but i'm 29 yrs old in the midst of orthodontic treatment for the 2nd time. i had braces 15 yrs ago but didn't wear my retainers much afterwards -- so my bottom teeth crowded. as a result, i need braces on both arches. i consulted with 5 different orthodontists who gave me vastly different plans (one involved creating extra space on top then adding veneers or bonding to fill in gaps -- i nixed this b/c i didn't need this the 1st time around).
i ended up going w/dr. robert quinn b/c he mainly treats adults.
he didn't want to mess w/my so-called class I (good) side bite, so i have braces on my front 6 top & bottom teeth only. several orthos wanted to put braces on all teeth in case my back teeth do happen to move during treatment. there's some risk of root-shortening during treatment, so i'm happy w/dr. quinn's approach. i did have my lower teeth shaved and balked at the idea (i'd still avoid it if i could), but dr. quinn spread it out over
6 teeth and did it in two sessions. he said that doing it all at once can result in taking too much and then having extra space.
not all the orthos i talked to shared the same approach -- one wanted to shave a huge amount off just 2 teeth! if you will be moving all your teeth it's possible that you could get the job done w/out shaving -- my first braces treatment didn't involve shaving and my teeth looked great.
as far as care, flossing takes a long time w/ braces, but it's a must if you want to prevent both cavities & bad breath! i find that coating floss w/tea tree oil (can get at trader joe's) kills more bad breath bacteria than brushing & flossing alone -- just don't swallow the oil! i think a rotating electric toothbrush is essential. i can't get my braces clean enough w/a manual brush.
my dentist seems to think the oral-b round rotating head plus skinny brush head is better than a sonicare; her office also pushes the rotadent brand toothbrush for problem gums &/or braces. i didn't properly care for my teeth the first time around and i have suffered the consequences: decalcified areas on teeth, some of which resulted in cavities (even worse on my back teeth...make sure you get a small brush head to get back teeth clean!).
straight teeth the second time
I had braces pre-kid in my early 30's. It was not as bad as I thought. I began to notice the other folks at work with braces, and we shared a lot of encouragement. Little kids would stare at me and wonder at the stuff on my teeth, so I would smile more broadly and show them. Keeping my teeth clean then was easier than keeping up with dental apointments with a newborn around.
So you may have to really work on keeping the appointments with both your dentist and orhtodontist. These days, cleaning is far easier with those new instuments. THe one thing I wished I had done diferently was to get a real cool color for my retainer.
Sigh. But it was worth it. My teeth look better and most importantly, they are far easier for me to keep clean.
I am wondering if there are retainers for adults to halt the
crowding forward of lower teeth. I heard from a friend in LA
that there are orthodontists that do not charge too much for
this. I guess what I'm also wondering if it's effective and how
expensive it is.
-- - Really don't want braces
About a year ago I began going to Berkeley orthodontics for a
similar problem. Their number is 849-2434. I had braces as a
kid and I began to notice that some of my teeth were moving. I
ended up with a top and bottom retainer that I only wear at
night (my decision since things would go faster if I wore it
24/7) to correct one problem and stabilize the other teeth. The
entire cost was a little over $1,000 and my insurance paid for
almost half. I go in every 2-3 months for checkups and have not
had to pay anything else since. All in all very satisified.
I'd say, go for it!
I don't know much about orthodonture, but a friend is taking his
daughter to the University of the Pacific dental school in SF
because the cost is about half. You could check it out. Also,
many orthodontists don't charge for a first consultation, at
least for kids.
Hi. I had braces over again as an adult. They know a lot more
than when I was a teenager, and were able to do different things
to correct problems in my mouth. I now have retainers which I
wear about every other night to sleep in. The whole process was
much faster and easier than when I was a kid. I recommend you
see Dr. Iezman on Walnut in Berkeley. He does a free initial
consultation. You can tell him what you do and don't want, and
he will explain things clearly. He is an orthodontist who sees
both adults and children, so, now I am also taking my kids
there. I have been very happy with him and his staff.
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