When is the Right Time for Braces?

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This post is sponsored by Bullwinkel Orthodontics, however, all opinions expressed are our own.

As a Board Certified Orthodontist who has served countless children and their families over the year, Dr. Katie Bullwinkel has learned that in orthodontics and in life, there is never a one size fits all treatment philosophy. The vast majority of young patients that are seen in her office, Bullwinkel Orthodontics, DO NOT need any orthodontic treatment, braces, or otherwise until ALL of their permanent teeth have erupted. This typically falls into the middle school years which pairs nicely with our major growth spurt.

Dr. Bullwinkel explains more about why, for some patients, early treatment may be needed.

Early treatment may be needed to:

  1. Prevent something bad from happening or,
  2. To make life easier later in comprehensive treatment.

In the preventative realm, at Bullwinkel Orthodontics, Dr. Bullwinkel explains that they are looking at how the permanent teeth line up with a child’s baby teeth counterparts. In other words, are the permanent teeth following the right eruptive path, or do they need to do something to help them? This can be anything from taking baby teeth out early, to expanding to make more room, all of which can be done right there in the office.

Bullwinkel Orthodontics typically treats patients with growth issues concerning the upper arch size and position during the elementary school years. This is when that type of treatment is the most effective. At this stage of growth, the facial sutures (the cartilage that connects the facial bones together) are still open and can be easily manipulated with orthodontics. Expansion is much more easily and comfortably accomplished around eight or nine years old versus fifteen or sixteen years old when they tend to see that stretchy cartilage begins to fill in with bone. In her professional experience, Dr. Bullwinkel feels that expansion has an added benefit of making space for crowded teeth and even airway improvement!

Another area that Bullwinkel Orthodontics treats in young people is severe teeth crowding. Severe crowding can be (and is often) addressed early. It can be addressed in a few ways: either by expansion, stripping of baby teeth, or simply sequential, strategic removal of baby teeth. All of these techniques can make your child’s future treatment easier, more predictable, and more efficient than it would be otherwise.

Kids in elementary school normally have crooked teeth with spaces and turns, but sometimes these tipsy turned smiles can cause a child to be bullied or teased at school. This may be another reason parents might elect to get their child early orthodontic treatment. Often, there is no medical reason to place braces early, but bullying has real long-term consequences. If a simple round of braces for 6-9 months increases your child’s confidence and nips the bullying, early treatment may be a good choice.

If your child does elect to have early orthodontic treatment, typically (but not always) a second comprehensive phase will be completed in-office once all of their permanent teeth have erupted. This phase is to finalize the position of all the permanent teeth and the final fit of the teeth. There is no secret third phase after this round at Bullwinkel Orthodontics. As long as you wear your retainers, you should rest assured that you will be able to enjoy your child’s smile for a lifetime!

Connect with Dr. Katie, Board Certified Orthodontist, and her team at Bullwinkel Orthodontics:
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Schedule an appointment

Two Locations to make seeing Dr. Katie a breeze!

Bullwinkel Orthodontics
(843) 285-5315
405 W 5th N St. Suite A
Summerville, SC 29483

Vincent Bullwinkel Orthodontics
(843) 762-2304
125-H Wappoo Creek Drive
Charleston, SC 29412

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