Orthodontics for Children – FAQs

Posted on Feb 17, 2017 in Info & FAQs
Orthodontics for Children – FAQs

There are a number of questions that are frequently asked specifically about orthodontics for children and in this article we set out to answer them as simply and clearly as possible…

When should my child first see an orthodontist?

We recommend that all children have an initial inspection, by a qualified orthodontist, at the age of seven. Many people mistakenly believe that the work of an orthodontist cannot begin until a child’s adult teeth are present. In fact, to give your child the best prospect of a beautiful smile, this simply isn’t the case. By age seven, while some baby teeth are still in place, orthodontists can identify any potential problems with jaw growth and emerging second teeth.
There is however, no specific age when children may require orthodontics and you should discuss your child’s teeth with their dentist on a regular basis. Frequent monitoring of the child’s growth and development helps avoid major treatment later, and ensures that any necessary work will be recommended at the appropriate time. The treatment plan will depend on the individual child’s needs. Some children, for example those with cleft palates, receive orthodontic treatment before their first teeth have erupted. For most children, a first inspection at the age of seven will be followed by treatment, where required, usually starting between the ages of nine and fourteen.

How can I tell if my child needs early orthodontic treatment?

Your child’s dentist should advise you when your child needs to see an orthodontist. Here are some common signs that a visit might be required:

  • Problems with biting where the teeth do not come together evenly or the mouth cannot close completely
  • Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth
  • Crowded front teeth
  • Protruding teeth where the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other
  • Early loss of baby teeth – children should typically start losing teeth around age five
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Breathing only through the mouth and not the nose
  • Thumb sucking after age five
  • Speech impediments

For how long will my child need to wear braces?

Typically most children wear braces for between 18 months and 36 months. However, the length of treatment will vary depending on your child’s requirements and also on how well he or she co-operates with the treatment. Another factor is the individual child’s rate of growth over the treatment period.
Wearing braces is followed by wearing a retainer, which brings us onto the next common question…

For how long does my child need to wear a retainer?

Many orthodontists recommend that children should continue to wear retainers “forever” even as adults, for maybe one or two nights a week. Teeth can continue to change position throughout your adult life and retainers help to keep them beautifully straight. In practice, most children are expected to wear retainers on a regular basis for one or two years after their braces have been removed.

Does a child’s diet have to change because of braces?

The answer is almost certainly yes! There are a number of foods that should be avoided when wearing braces in order to avoid broken wires and brackets causing pain and potentially prolonging treatment. Children should be told “if you eat these foods you will have to wear braces for a longer time!”

  • Generally it is best to completely rule out anything hard, chewy or sticky. Examples of food not to eat include:
  • Toffee and caramel
  • Chocolate bars with sticky centres
  • Boiled sweets
  • Wine gums, gummy bears and other chewy sweets
  • Nuts
  • Chewing gum

There are also some items that should be eaten carefully:

  • Popcorn
  • Chewy bread and cakes such as bagels and doughnuts – tear into small pieces
  • Crisps – eat them carefully and one at a time
  • Corn on the cob – eat off the cob, don’t chew on it!
  • Apples and carrots – cut into small pieces

Finally, don’t chew on any hard items such as ice, the ends of pens and pencils, or fingernails.

If you have dental concerns, please make an appointment with us.
Dr. Moira Wong – Orthodontist

An exceptionally skilled orthodontist who simply loves to improve the smiles of adults and children.

Dr Moira Wong (GDC no: 67960, UK) developed an ambition to specialise in the field of orthodontics during her time as a dentistry student at the London Hospital Medical College. After graduating in 1994, she gained experience in all fields of dentistry prior to specialisation. This included working as part of the Pennstar trauma team at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr Wong’s career pathway began with a spell as a house officer in prosthetic dentistry at the Royal London Hospital, followed by senior house officer positions at the Bristol Dental Hospital. During this period she gained her fellowship in dental surgery and worked in the paediatric dentistry department, treating special needs children and addressing complicated developmental problems. She also worked with adults requiring the replacement of multiple teeth.

Returning to London to take up a position as a senior house officer in oral surgery, Dr Wong gained experience in dental and facial surgery. One of her busiest nights was helping with the suturing of patients following a national rail crash.

Dr Wong was then accepted onto the specialty training programme at Guy’s Hospital, where she spent a further three years gaining her master’s degree. She continued onto a consultant training programme at King’s College and St George’s Hospital, gaining her Fellowship in orthodontics. Currently less than 300 UK practitioners have this level of training, with just 5 to 10 people gaining the accreditation in an average year.

Today, Dr Wong has acquired an excellent reputation for her highly sophisticated work and approachable, communicative manner. Her ambition is to be recognised as nothing less than the best orthodontist in London.