What Is Pediatric Orthodontics?

How to Know if Your Child Needs Braces or Other Early Orthodontic Treatment

Starting orthodontic treatment early in your child’s life will ensure a healthy smile that looks and feels good for many years to come. Proper orthodontic treatment will improve your child’s personal appearance and boost self-confidence at a critical young age. Because our jaws grow at different rates, receiving an initial consultation at a young age will give you and your family plenty of information for creating an effective treatment plan with your orthodontist.

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what are pediatric orthodontics


AAO Recommendation

You may be wondering what is the best age to get braces, and the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that parents take their children for orthodontic treatment by the age of seven, before all of the permanent teeth come in. Because of the wide disparity in tooth development around the age of seven, an expert needs to determine if your child needs orthodontic treatment or if the changes are a normal part of developmental growth.

An orthodontist will also be able to tell if enough room exists in your child’s mouth to accommodate the incoming permanent teeth. Most orthodontic conditions are easier to treat the earlier they are identified, when natural growth processes are at their peak. If some of these conditions are left untreated at a young age they may require surgery or permanent tooth extractions later in life. You may be wondering if it’s too late to get braces; and we are here to reassure you that each child is different and we can still move forward with treatment if you decide to explore braces at age 8 or braces at age 10 for example.

Visiting an Orthodontist Before the Age of Seven

While there is no braces age limit, there are some behaviors that require your child to seek out pediatric orthodontics earlier, especially if you have a question about the alignment of the teeth or bite. Additional reasons to see an orthodontist sooner than the age of seven include:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Thumb sucking
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Mouth breathing and snoring
  • Trouble biting, speaking or chewing
  • Protruding, crowded or widely spaced teeth
  • Clenching jaws
  • Grinding teeth

If you notice these behaviors in your child before the age of seven, we strongly recommend making an appointment with an orthodontist.

Reasons to Consider Pediatric Orthodontics

1. Proactive Treatment by a Pediatric Orthodontist: While there is no best age for braces, visiting a pediatric orthodontist will ensure proper alignment in your child’s jaws by allowing the orthodontist to determine the best time to begin necessary treatment. The orthodontist will watch growth patterns as your child develops, allowing early detection and timely treatment if/when any issues arise. This process can be much more difficult after your child gets older and his or her jaws and teeth have finished growing.

2. Supporting the Emergence of Permanent Teeth: Children typically start developing permanent teeth by the age of seven, which means a pediatric orthodontist will be able to recommend the need for care and best treatment options to consider at an early age.

3. Catching and Reversing Bad Habits Early: Pediatric Orthodontics can help identify bad oral habits early and mitigate the negative effects they may have on your child’s teeth and mouth. The best age for braces can be determined by seeing an orthodontist before the age of seven to help prevent bad habits — such as thumb sucking — and improve the overall orthodontist experience. If untreated, these bad habits can increase the need for emergency orthodontic treatment or even surgery.

4. Less Invasive and More Cost Effective: The earlier you start orthodontic treatment, the less invasive and more cost effective it can be. While your child’s permanent teeth are still growing, an orthodontist can identify issues early enough to begin treatment before issues worsen.

5. Avoid Issues That Emerge From Permanent Teeth: Some issues are treated much more easily in children than in adults. It’s helpful for the orthodontist to evaluate how your permanent teeth are coming through the gums in order to determine if treatment is necessary.

6. Create a Financial Plan for the Future: Seeking pediatric orthodontics at a young age helps budget for the future. We strongly recommend asking questions in early appointments in order to get an accurate idea of what to expect. Treatment plans can include appliance at various stages. Seeing an orthodontist early will help create a plan that works with your finances.

7. More Favorable Long-Term Results: The earlier an orthodontist identifies issues and begins treatment, the better your results will be in the long-run. Visiting an orthodontist before the jaw finishes growing results in a faster, easier and better overall treatment plan.


Once you’ve decided to take your child to the first pediatric orthodontics appointment, it’s important to share the various phases of braces and what he or she can expect from their pediatric orthodontist visit:

1. Explain Clearly the Need for the Appointment: It is very helpful for your child to understand why they are going to see an orthodontist. Explain to them that braces and Invisalign are used to straighten misaligned teeth, imbalanced jaw structures and improve their smile. Inform them that the earlier they go to the orthodontist, the less time treatment will most likely take.

2. Let Your Child Know That They are not Alone: Most children know a friend or family member who has gone to the orthodontist. Help your child understand that it is extremely common from kids their age to go to the orthodontist.

3. Share What to Expect at the First Orthodontist Appointment: Let your child know that the first appointment will consist of an oral examination, digital x-rays and photos, as well as a discussion of treatment options. Sometimes treatment can start that very same day, if needed. Explain that x-rays help the orthodontist see what’s going on underneath the gums, the location of any teeth that are still below the gum line, and the position and growth of bones and joints.

4. Meeting Your Orthodontist: Letting your child know that a visit to an orthodontist resembles a visit to a dentist can help calm their fears. Orthodontists achieve three additional years of schooling, making them specialists who diagnose, prevent and treat a variety of dental problems. An orthodontist can have a positive impact on your child’s health, appearance, development and comfort. Explain that orthodontists are experts in creating beautiful smiles.

5. Introduce the Treatment Options: It may be helpful to review various treatment options and the stages of braces with your child before visiting the orthodontist, as treatment may start that very same day. The following list outlines some of our most common treatments:

  • A palatal expander uses gentle pressure on the upper molars to widen the upper jaw.
  • A quad helix uses four springs to widen the arch of your mouth in order to make room for crowded teeth. This device can also correct posterior crossbites.
  • A limp bumper helps make room for lower teeth by moving molars back and creating space in the front.
  • Traditional braces consist of two main components — brackets affixed to the teeth and a main archwire threaded through the brackets — and use constant, gentle pressure to move teeth into the proper alignment over time. There are several stages of braces that we will review with you and your child in detail.
  • Invisalign straightens teeth without wires and brackets, but instead with a series of clear, customized and removable aligners. Patients switch aligners every 1-2 weeks in order to gradually move teeth into the proper placement, while being able to easily remove aligners throughout treatment for eating, brushing and flossing.




Throughout the orthodontic industry, pediatric orthodontics also gets referred to as Phase I orthodontic Treatment, which is the first of the phases of braces and includes progressive treatments for patients ages seven to eleven —especially when jaw irregularities are present. During this growth period, orthodontic treatment can be more effective and less invasive. Early detection allows an orthodontist to create a perfectly timed, personalized treatment plan for your child.

The following list outlines potential signs your child may need Phase I orthodontic treatment:

  • Protruding front teeth
  • Loss of baby teeth too early or too late
  • Trouble biting or chewing
  • Sucking thumb or fingers
  • Underbite or a bite that shifts to one side
  • Misaligned lower and upper teeth
  • Snoring

The goals of Phase I orthodontic treatment include:

  • Gain proper width of the upper and lower jaws.
  • Create room for crowded teeth to enter.
  • Align the jaws to allow proper growth.
  • Reduce the risk of trauma to protruding teeth.
  • Hold space for permanent teeth that need to erupt.
  • Reduce the need for tooth removal.
  • Reduce treatment time with braces.
  • Minimize the need for surgical treatment with certain growth patterns.

In order to begin Phase I orthodontic treatment, the orthodontist will take digital models, x-rays and photographs of your child’s teeth in order to determine the type of orthodontic appliance needed, the duration of treatment time needed, and the frequency of visits to the orthodontist.

A successful Phase I orthodontic treatment creates room for permanent teeth to find their path way in, so they are not severely displaced during the growth process. You will notice a difference in phase 1 braces before and after, as we will start to address some of the items in the list of signs above. Your child will then have about a year or so to rest before beginning phase 2 braces treatment, if needed. Phase 2 braces treatment will correct issues involving the permanent teeth, which should have been decreased during phase 1 braces treatment.

You may be wondering about the cost of phase 1 braces, and because there isn’t a standard treatment for each child, it’s difficult to predict what phase 1 braces will cost. We do offer custom financing options and monthly payment place for your braces, that will fit your unique situation so that the phase 1 braces cost doesn’t prevent you from achieving a healthy and beautiful smile.


A successful Phase I braces treatment of pediatric orthodontics creates room for permanent teeth to successfully enter, lessening the likelihood of impacted or severely displaced teeth during the eruption process. After this phase, we recommend staying in close contact with your children’s orthodontist and scheduling progress calls or appointments every six months. For the most part, though, we leave your child’s permanent teeth alone during this time as they continue to erupt through the gums.

Phase II braces treatment primarily serves teens who have already received Phase I treatment, or who didn’t require Phase I treatment and have most of their permanent teeth. During Phase II treatment, we use Invisalign or retainers and braces to best position all the permanent teeth in order to maximize appearance and functionality.

pediatric orthodontics need to know
The following outlines each of the phases of braces we use for creating the best possible smile for your child for years to come.

• BRACES: Braces consist of two main component: (1) brackets placed on the teeth and (2) a main archwire that connects them. Using constant, gentle pressure, braces move teeth into the proper position. After we affix brackets to each tooth, the wire threads through the brackets in order to move teeth into proper alignment. Rubber bands or elastics may also become part of the process — worn between the upper and lower teeth in order to help with bite correction.

• INVISALIGN: Invisalign consists of a series of clear, removable and custom-made appliances called aligners. These aligners work to create a beautiful smile by shifting teeth in incremental steps until they reach the desired position. The process involves taking a digital scan and creating a 3D model of the teeth. We then develop a customized treatment plan based on the specific shape of your mouth. Using advanced technology, we create a series of aligners that are worn for 1-2 weeks at a time until achieving the best smile!

• RETAINERS: After finishing either braces or Invisalign treatment, we create retainers for patients to wear throughout the day which is the final stages of braces treatment. Retainers hold teeth in their new positions while the bone, gums and muscles adapt. They ensure that the teeth remain stable and continue to stay in their new and improved locations.

Some important tips for wearing your retainers during the braces finishing stages are:

  • Do not keep them in your pocket.
  • Follow the instructions from your orthodontist and wear them when you are advised.
  • Clean your retainers using a toothbrush after all meals.
  • Keep your retainers away from pets.
  • Use your retainer case to keep them safe when you aren’t wearing them.

At Gorman & Bunch Orthodontics, we work hard to find the best treatment plan for your child at the right age, and we strive to make your family’s visits to any of our offices as pleasant, informative and productive as possible —- ultimately giving your child a happier and healthier smile and boosted self-confidence.

If you’re curious about learning more about pediatric orthodontics, or are ready to schedule an initial consultation for your child, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We look forward to hearing from you!



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  • We were very pleased with the staff and services at Gorman & Bunch. From the beginning, they were very friendly and made us feel comfortable with our first ortho visit. Dr. Carly was very nice and attentive. We ended up with braces for my son on the first visit and they were quick and thorough and made our experience very positive. Definitely would recommend them! They are awesome!

    Donia Shackelford Avatar
    Donia Shackelford

    Personal and professional, everyone always takes great care of my sensitive mouth teen!

    This is our first experience with needing orthodontia, when it’s time for my youngest to get braces, we’ll choose this place again in a heartbeat.

    From the team up front to the team in the back, everyone is so nice and yet so efficiently on task, it is quite impressive.

    They have reasonable pricing and are willing to help with a payment plan.

    Keep up the great work!!

    Robert Cassidy Avatar
    Robert Cassidy

    Amazing experience all around. The staff is super friendly and Dr. Carly always makes my daughter feel comfortable with the work being done. We are thrilled with the progress we are seeing, and the customer service is always top notch.

    Ryder man 645 Lozier Avatar
    Ryder man 645 Lozier

    Love this office! Helpful, professional, and knowledgeable doctor and staff. Haven’t had 1 issue with them. They’ve got their routine down pat.

    Courtney Amos Avatar
    Courtney Amos
  • I can’t say enough great things about this office. I am legal guardian of my sister and she is going through Invisalign with them… She’s almost done and I am amazed by the results.
    I also go there for continued orthodontic care because orthodontic retention is for life! So glad I have such great people to care for our teeth!!!

    Veronica Boyle Avatar
    Veronica Boyle

    Amazing office! My daughter was home from college and had an orthodontic emergency. She was not a previous patient. Dr Moran was kind enough to see her. The entire staff was amazing. I would never go anywhere else!

    Sharon Hoover Avatar
    Sharon Hoover

    Heather and Dr Carly were awesome! Friendly, informative, and professional. Office was very inviting. We had a great appointment and look forward to the next couple of years of working with them.

    Andy Tebbe Avatar
    Andy Tebbe

    This 64 year old had teeth that had begun to overlap in my adult years, which was attributed to having 4 good teeth removed as a child for "Crowded teeth". I waited to fund Invisalign until incurring no penalty for taking IRA funds, other than taxes. I was fortunate to be referred to Dr. Jason Bunch by my dentist, Dr. Jack Nicewander. Dr. Bunch and his Carmel, IN office staff see numerous children and young adults, but welcome the young at heart as well. I trust them and find them accommodating, efficient, professional and compassionate.

    Joyce Eggleston Avatar
    Joyce Eggleston
  • Excellent every time we’ve brought our kids. Thorough evaluations, knowledgeable doctors/staff, great with kids, and great results

    Stephanie Avatar

    Fantastic staff who put the person (and their teeth!) at the center of the experience. Child-friendly waiting areas. I've had nothing but good experiences over my nearly 10 years with Gorman and Bunch. Cannot recommend highly enough!

    Pete Freeman Avatar
    Pete Freeman

    Cannot say enough good things about this practice! I've been to Westfield and Carmel locations, both are beautiful with helpful and friendly staff. Dr Bunch is experienced, knowledgeable, and truly cares about his patients and strives to get the best results possible for each one!

    Karen Caudle Avatar
    Karen Caudle

    I love this office. The staff and Dr. Carly are great. I’m having amazing results with my program! I highly suggest it to any and everyone!

    Mark Roberts Avatar
    Mark Roberts
  • I received Invisalign treatment and had a lot going on. As a mom of two children ,under two years old, it’s tough making doctor appointments but let me tell you they make it work! I was with Dr. Carly at the Westfield office and she always encouraged my little sons to come during my appointments. This made things so much easier for me. The staff at Gorman and Bunch were always welcoming and inviting. They would remember you and are honestly genuine people. Let me tell you it is hard finding good medical practices these days but these people are the best. I forever will recommend Gorman and Bunch to young kiddos and adults.

    Casey Hood Avatar
    Casey Hood

    Amazing experience they all made my daughter and I feel very comfortable, all the ladies were extremely nice. Very well informed. Wouldn't go anywhere else!

    Erica Wood Avatar
    Erica Wood

    Amazing experience all around. The staff is super friendly and Dr. Carly always makes my daughter feel comfortable with the work being done. We are thrilled with the progress we are seeing, and the customer service is always top notch.

    Alyssa Lozier Avatar
    Alyssa Lozier

    Very great place! Went there for my first time today and i felt so comfortable and they are helping me fix my mouth!! Love love love!

    Haley Elston Avatar
    Haley Elston
  • I just started my first week with the Invisalign. The staff has been extremely friendly and helpful through every step.

    Dr Carly’s initial evaluation of my case was extremely thorough and the options were explained in detail to help make an informed decision.

    They’ve certainly exceeded my expectation and from the looks of it, they do a great job with their younger patients as well!

    Patrick May Avatar
    Patrick May

    This is the best place to go! Dr. Carly and her staff have made my daughter's smile beautiful.

    Ruth Perkins Avatar
    Ruth Perkins