At McDonald Orthodontics

We like to work with patients of all ages to ensure the best results

Parents want to find the best orthodontist for their children (and themselves). The Internet has made it easy to search for the “best orthodontist near me.” But how can a parent or patient know if what an orthodontist recommends is the BEST for a given situation?

Evaluating any specialist’s claims of being the BEST is important because, oftentimes, what an orthodontist presents as the best option or a good idea to a parent or child, may, in fact, not be optimal for the patient.

Taking advantage of the patient’s teenage years and natural dental development is critical to developing a treatment plan that is as efficient as it is comfortable. Here, at McDonald Orthodontics, we know for a fact that the official recommendation from the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) to bring children by age 7 to their first orthodontic appointment is essential for the patient’s proper development.

We like to work with patients of all ages to ensure the best results, so let’s review what teenagers need to consider when getting braces and a few common practices that may not be the best for your child.


What Is the Right Age for Braces?

There are two things we need to clarify to our readers here. First, there’s no age limit to start your orthodontic treatment; second, the sooner you begin, the better. As you can see, even though we highly recommend that patients begin their orthodontic review as soon as age 7, we do not mean to say that that’s the age when they should first get braces.

In fact, each patient will have to begin their orthodontic care at the age that suits them best. There’s no one universal rule stating that everyone should get braces by age 12 or something like that.

All that said, we do agree that the teenage years are ideal for orthodontic treatment with traditional metal braces.


Why Does My Teenager Need Braces?

Parents should be attentive to their kids’ dental development. The main factor in the development of orthodontic problems is genetics; as such, parents who know they or their relatives have had bad bites or crooked teeth before should make it a priority to bring their kid or teenager to a board-certified orthodontist who can help fix tooth alignment.

Other reasons why your teenager might require a qualified orthodontist include direct trauma to a tooth. This is particularly common in kids who play contact sports. Some patients suffer an accident and direct trauma to a tooth that falls out of proper alignment. Braces or clear aligners can help fix these issues.

Finally, young children who lost primary teeth prematurely might also develop tooth crowding or spacing issues that call for the help of an orthodontist. We urge parents with young kids not to underestimate the importance of baby teeth, promote proper oral hygiene routines in their homes, and bring their kids to the orthodontist. Teenagers will receive all the help they can get in our orthodontic office serving Salem, Or.

12 Year Molars’ Development

When children receive proper guidance from an early age, they minimize the risk of having to undergo prolonged and uncomfortable orthodontic treatment. One of our goals is to help avoid the need for braces as a teenager, and we can only achieve that when a child comes for specialized care at a young age.

Teenagers should expect some discomfort as their dental development progresses. Around age 12, many patients will begin to notice the eruption of their second molars. The goal of early orthodontic care or Phase I orthodontics, is to create sufficient space for these incoming 12-year-molars.

This stage of physical development can be challenging for individuals as they deal with mild pain caused by the eruption and tear of gum tissue. Teenagers may also face some headaches, having a negative impact on their capacity to focus on certain tasks or perform sports with the same proficiency as before.

Use over-the-counter painkillers or saltwater rinses to help deal with the discomfort.

Ultimately, the eruption of any 12-year-molars shouldn’t negatively impact their orthodontic treatment. Make sure you consult with a qualified orthodontist in Salem to know how to continue with the treatment as usual.

Tips to Find the Best Orthodontic Care for Teenagers

1. Are full braces better before all the teeth come in better?

Starting braces early means they come off before the 12-year molars come in, and, therefore, they may never be appropriately straightened.

Twelve-year molars are an important part of the bite and are difficult teeth to work with because they’re in the very back of the mouth. If an orthodontist starts and finishes braces before 12-year molars come in, this saves the orthodontist lots of appointments (time) and makes the treatment much more profitable.

Not only that, parents and patients may be excited when told that it’s advantageous to complete treatment early in a student’s school career.

Dr. John believes this is a false economy and that it is not good for patients. If 12-year molars come in and are not straight or do not fit well with opposing teeth, orthodontic treatment may fail, and teeth are less likely to remain straight long-term.

2. Are Some Retainers Better Than Others?

There are two major types of retainers used by Keizer orthodontists to hold teeth in place after the braces come off.

(1) The traditional plastic and wire retainer.(2) A clear plastic (Invisalign-type) vacuum-formed retainer.

Clear plastic retainers have the advantage of being clear; however, they do not last nearly as long as traditional wire retainers. Furthermore, clear plastic retainers have a significant treatment disadvantage. Because these retainers cover the entire tooth, it prevents the teeth from settling into the natural, best possible bite. This means teeth are more likely to shift when the retainer invariably breaks or disintegrates over time.

Traditional retainers, preferred by Dr. John, have none of the disadvantages of clear plastic retainers. In fact, Dr. John has had patients return after wearing their traditional retainer for 25 years to have the retainer adjusted.

Furthermore, it is now possible to make these retainers without a visible wire, so they are effectively invisible. This gives them all of the aesthetic benefits of clear, vacuum-formed retainers with none of the drawbacks.

3. Are There Ways to Make Teeth Move Faster?

Companies are constantly claiming to have invented ways to make teeth move faster. There are devices that vibrate teeth, special lights to shine on teeth, claims that braces will have less friction and gentler movement, and even certain procedures to tweak the teeth in an effort to speed their movement.

Invariably, all of these types of procedures and tools have been shown to be ineffective at speeding up human tooth movement. Even though research has debunked all claims of accelerated tooth movement, a glance through any city’s listed orthodontists will reveal dentists or orthodontists who claim the ability to move teeth faster than their competitors.

Dr. John bases treatment and recommendations on proven methods that are in the best interest of the patient.

4. Are Some Treatments Better Than Others?

There are lots of meaningless and misleading terms applied to orthodontic treatment claims. Many orthodontists, and dentists who do orthodontics, will use scientific-sounding terms to describe treatments, often claiming to provide an advantage or benefit that other orthodontists are not providing. Most of these terms have no recognized meaning in the profession of orthodontics. Terms like “face-focused orthodontics”, “airway-friendly orthodontics”, “epigenetic orthodontic appliances”, “myofunctional orthodontic treatment”, “postural orthodontics”, and “expansion orthodontics”, “DNA appliance orthodontics”, and “100% extraction-free orthodontics”. These are a few of the unproven, hyperbolic types of orthodontic claims you may see advertised.

What Are Some Other Ways to Find a Quality Orthodontist in Salem, O?

First, look for an orthodontist who is board certified. Becoming board certified requires passing extensive testing, and only about 25% of orthodontists have achieved this status. Of course, Dr. John is board certified and is proud to have achieved this professional landmark.

A list of these orthodontists can be found here.

Second, in orthodontics, experience counts. Generally, orthodontists consider ten years of experience a meaningful level of achievement. Check out the orthodontist’s website to read about his or her education and experience.

Smile After Braces

If You Would Like to Schedule an Introductory Consultation with Dr. John, Call Us at (503) 585-5400.

Three, there’s no substitute for visiting the office, meeting the orthodontist, and getting an evaluation to find out if you’ve found the best orthodontist for you. Because orthodontics is generally a one- or two-year process, having a good relationship with your orthodontist is important. Choose an orthodontist who you like and trust but also do your homework to check on other things mentioned in this blog.