FAQs: Orthodontics

  • When is the best time to begin?

Orthodontic treatment can be started on certain types of tooth problems before all permanent teeth have erupted.  Early treatment, usually begun after the four permanent upper and lower teeth have erupted (ages 7-9), is recommended when any of these problems are apparent:

  • Overjet (upper front teeth protrude)

  • Underbite (lower front teeth protrude)

  • Deep bite (upper front teeth cover lower front teeth too much)

  • Crowding

  • Narrow arches

  • Mid-line misalignment

  • Excess spacing


  • What are the advantages of early orthodontic treatment?

The advantages of early treatment are the following:

  • Moves the front teeeth back so they will be less susceptible to injury

  • Improves the relationship of upper and lower jaws, allowing more normal future growth and development

  • Uses maximum advantage of growth for successful treatment

  • Improves facial appearance and self-esteem

  • Takes advantage of the good cooperation of patients at this age

  • May avoid or reduce the need for extraction of teth when patiens are older.


  • What is the First Phase?

Treatment usually takes 12 to 18 months and a varieety of appliances may be used to correct specific problems:

  • Braces - placed on the upper and sometimes lower permanent teeth, 

  • Rapid Palatal Expander - Worn to widen the upper jaw

  • Functional Appliance - A removable "retainer" work to stimulate jaw growth

  • ALF - (Advanced Lightwire Functional) appliances are used to expand the maxillary and mandibular arches. The ALF appliances are invisible in the mouth, unobtrusive, with minimal impact on speech and swallowing patterns, and can be worn 24 hours a day and 7 days a week (24/7). Their effectiveness in assisting the brackets and wires in the orthopedic process of realignment becomes apparent after a short period of time.


  • What is the Maintenance Phase?

During the time between the first and second phase, the patient will be seen approximately two times per year.


  • What is the Second Phase?

During the first phase the orthodontist has no control over 16 unerupted permanent teeth.  If, after they grow in, problems still exist, further treatment will be required. A separate fee will be quoted at the time.  Treatment usually takes 12-24 months at age 12 to 13 years.