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Straighter Smiles with Orthodontics

Having straight, healthy teeth is more than a confidence boost for your child. It also boasts numerous benefits to their health and well-being. Dimitri Bizoumis, DDS, and his team of skilled dental professionals have years of experience using orthodontics to help straighten kids’ smiles across Huntington Beach.

Whether your child is just getting their first adult teeth or is entering their senior year of high school, now is the best time to consider straightening their teeth! Schedule your orthodontic consultation to see how they can benefit today.


Does My Child Need Braces?

Child eating watermelon in garden.

As a parent, keeping your child healthy is one of your biggest concerns. Misaligned teeth isn’t simply an aesthetic issue; your child can have lasting health problems if their teeth don’t meet the way they should.

Correcting dental misalignment is easiest and most effective during childhood and teenage years, since the jaw is still in development. This not only makes changes easier, but makes teeth less likely to shift after treatment once the jaw is fully developed.

7 Situations That Might Require Braces

Every child’s mouth is different, and not everyone will need braces just because of a small alignment issue. Your child’s current and future health is the most important consideration when it comes to dental care. Our dentists weigh the options and help you understand whether orthodontics will benefit your child’s smile.

Here are seven situations where orthodontics are often recommended:

  1. Their baby teeth fall out early or late.
  2. They have difficulty biting, chewing, or speaking.
  3. They suck their thumb or pacifier after age four.
  4. Their teeth don’t meet properly or at all.
  5. Their front teeth are already crowded at age seven or eight.
  6. Their top and bottom teeth aren’t aligned.
  7. Their jaw moves to one side when opening and closing.

When Should My Child Be Evaluated for Orthodontics?

Seven year old Caucasian boy in a park smiling to camera

Age seven is usually considered the best age for an orthodontic evaluation, about the time their first adult teeth start appearing. It’s easier at this age to tell if your child faces alignment issues since all of their baby teeth have emerged.

This doesn’t mean your child will need braces right away at this age. Our dentists evaluate your child on an individual level and will talk you through different options to help you make the best choice for your child.

Choosing the Right Braces

Our office provides many varieties of orthodontic treatment so that we can meet your child’s needs in the way that works best for them. These options include:

Traditional braces: The standard metal braces most people are familiar with. These consist of metal brackets attached to the outer tooth surface and connected by a wire.

Ceramic braces: A similar style to traditional braces, but these use tooth-colored bands and brackets to straighten teeth more discreetly.

Lingual braces: These braces are attached behind the teeth. They’re most often used on the lower front teeth.

Self-ligating braces: These braces look like traditional braces with one important distinction – they feature no elastic or rubber bands holding the wire in place.

Clear aligners: Custom-shaped plastic aligner trays fit neatly over the teeth, gently straightening them through targeted pressure. These braces are almost invisible and can be removed for eating or cleaning. Since they must be worn for at least 22 hours a day to be effective, we generally offer this treatment for responsible older teens with mild to moderate misalignment.

The First Steps When Getting Started with Braces

patient girl at the dental chair

An evaluation is the first and arguably most important part of the braces process. During the evaluation, our dentists use advanced x-ray and imaging technology to evaluate your child’s smile and determine whether they need orthodontic intervention. This lets them see what issues your child faces, how severe they are, and what treatments would be most effective.

Once treatment is selected, we can begin planning treatment and putting it into action.

Braces with Brackets

Traditional, ceramic, lingual, and self-ligating braces all use brackets attached to the enamel using special dental cement. These braces don’t harm your child’s enamel in any way. A strong metal wire connects the braces, using tension to guide the teeth into the optimal placement. Each wire is replaced with a thicker one over time, increasing tension until the teeth have reached their final position.

Clear Braces

These braces work very differently from the other braces. Using 3D imaging technology, we design and create a series of clear aligner trays that fit over the teeth. The trays are designed to use gentle pressure at targeted points to push teeth into the desired placement, with each tray moving them slightly more than before. Typically, a tray is worn for about two weeks before moving on to the next set.

How Long Do Braces Take?

Close-up portrait of smiling teenage girl with braces against dentist standing in clinic

No matter which type you choose, your child’s treatment time depends on how severe their issues are. The more significant the alignment issue, the longer the treatment will typically take.

On average, braces are worn for about two years, followed by a retainer to keep the teeth from shifting back. Our dentists will give you an estimate of total treatment time at the evaluation and planning stages.

Will Braces Be Painful for My Child?

It’s natural for teeth to feel sore when the braces are first placed or when a wire is being changed. Typically, this soreness goes away within a few days. You can use child-approved pain medications to improve their comfort during this period – talk to your pediatrician if you aren’t sure what to use.

In the meantime, you can make it easier for your child by serving them only soft foods and liquids on the first day, such as:

  • Yogurt
  • Soup
  • Applesauce
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Ice cream
  • By the second or third day, the soreness should have lessened, and your child should be able to handle chewing some foods. Stick to foods that are softer, like sandwiches, steamed or roasted veggies, and pasta.

    Typically, the soreness should have gone down by day four or five. If your child is still experiencing pain at this point, contact our office.

    Good Oral Hygiene for Braces Wearers

    With braces, good hygiene is more important than ever. Food can easily become trapped in the wires, making it easier for cavities and gum disease to form.

    A boy with braces on his teeth holds up a toothbrush with a toothpaste.

    To avoid this, it’s important for your child to brush at least twice a day. If you can have them brush after eating, this will help to reduce the amount of food debris left behind.

    They’ll also need to floss at least once a day between each tooth. This can be tricky with braces, so consider picking up a floss threader if your child is having difficulty. Packing some floss in your child’s backpack will also enable them to deal with things that get stuck in their braces while they’re out.

    If your child is involved in sports or other physical activity, they may be at greater risk for broken braces or oral injury. A mouthguard will be very important for protecting them during these activities.

    What Foods Should My Child Avoid with Braces?

    Most foods are fine with braces, so you won’t have to worry about limiting them too much. Pay careful attention to foods that are most likely to get stuck in the braces, break them, or dislodge the brackets.

    The most likely culprits include:

    • Sticky foods – Gum, caramel, taffy
    • Crunchy foods – Popcorn, tortilla chips, pretzels
    • Chewy foods – Bagels, hard dinner rolls, licorice, fruit leather, gummies
    • Hard foods – Ice cubes, nuts, almonds, hard candy
    • Complicated foods – Corn on the cob, whole apples, celery stalks (these are fine if sliced or otherwise prepared)

    What Do I Do If a Bracket Breaks or Comes Loose?

    Depending on the nature of the break, the most important thing is to determine if your child is injured or bleeding and address this first. Keeping a dental first aid kid around, especially one with dental wax, will be extremely helpful in cases of emergencies.

    If a bracket is loose or broken, or a wire has come loose, and your child is otherwise fine, there are a few things you can do. In many cases, you can simply wait until their next scheduled orthodontic visit to have it repaired as long as there is no danger to their health.

    Use dental wax to secure loose brackets in place until the visit. If a wire is poking out, trim it down with nail clippers as short as possible and apply the dental wax to the wire end.

    At your next visit, the dentist can secure or replace any issues with the braces. If you’re concerned about the situation or if your child may be at risk, contact our office to see if you need to be seen sooner than the scheduled visit.

    Wearing a Retainer When the Braces Come Off

    When it’s finally time to remove the braces, the dentist will supply your child with a custom-made retainer. This helps keep the teeth from shifting back into place.

    Girl holding rainbow coloured orthodontic retainer

    Most retainers are a removable plastic appliance held in place by metal wires and clasps. Your child will need to use special care with the retainer, such as removing it when eating, rinsing it when removed, and brushing it twice a day. Always keep the retainer in its case when not being used, as they’re easy to lose or accidentally throw away when wrapped in napkins or stored elsewhere.

    Your child will need to wear the retainer constantly apart from mealtimes at first to keep teeth from moving. After a few months, they may only have to wear it at night, and later, every few nights.

    What Happens if They Don’t Wear it and Their Teeth Shift?

    It’s common for kids to lose their retainers, forget them, or even be reluctant to wear them. If they go too long without it, however, their teeth can start to shift back.

    Contact our office as soon as you know their teeth have started moving or they haven’t been wearing the retainer. We’ll need to evaluate how much their teeth have moved to determine the best course of action.

    Depending on the amount of movement, we may decide to continue using the retainer or switch to a fixed bonded retainer. If the movement is severe, we may need to resume treatment with braces.

    Building Healthy Smiles with Two-Phase Treatment

    Attractive Hispanic Woman and Girl Playing a Video Game with Handheld Controllers

    Sometimes, severe challenges in dental alignment or jaw development can spell a long and difficult treatment for your child in their later years. In such a case, the dentist may recommend considering two-phase treatment to make the treatment easier on your child by dividing it into two parts.

    Two-phase treatment involves some orthodontic treatment in the early years, which encourages healthy jaw bone development and reduces the impact of misalignments. Then, once they’re older, we resume orthodontic treatment to move the teeth into their ideal placement.

    Why Treat Them Twice?

    Not every child will need this, even if they present problems at an early age. The most important factor is whether your child’s dental situation is making it difficult to eat, speak, or breathe properly, compromising their health and development.

    During Phase One, we focus on developing the jaw to make room for all of your child’s teeth. This not only eases problems but may prevent the need for tooth extractions or jaw surgery as they get older.

    A resting period after this phase allows the teeth and jaw to develop naturally in the space created through the treatment. Once the smile has developed further, we perform Phase Two to finalize their treatment and ensure the healthiest possible smile. For many, the second phase goes much more quickly than providing orthodontic treatment all at once.

    Giving Your Child Their Best Smile Yet

    School kids running in elementary school hallway, front view

    Your child’s smile is a reflection of how they feel, and feeling good about their smile can help them project confidence and joy. At the office of Dr. Dimitri Bizoumis, our dentists are dedicated to helping kids across Huntington Beach enjoy their healthiest, happiest smiles.

    Do you think your child could benefit from orthodontic treatment? Contact our office to schedule your visit today!


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