Many parents have questions about their child’s orthodontic treatment. Dr. Soudabeh Sharafi has provided this page of frequently asked questions to help you gain a better understanding of orthodontics in San Diego, California. If you have further questions, or to schedule your child’s appointment with our pediatric dentist, please call Soudabeh Sharafi DMD today at (858) 259-1400.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics, sometimes called dentofacial orthopedics, is a dental specialty that involves diagnosing, preventing, and correcting malocclusion (bad bites), and problems in the development of your jaw and other orofacial structures.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist. Orthodontists have completed additional training beyond dental school to treat dental abnormalities, jaw and bite problems, and straighten teeth.

When should my child begin visiting an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that you bring your child to the orthodontist for an initial evaluation at about age 7. By this age, several permanent teeth have emerged, and the orthodontist can evaluate your child’s orthodontic condition to determine if early treatment is necessary, and when it should begin.

What causes orthodontic problems?

Most orthodontic problems are caused by malocclusion, or bad bites. These problems can include crowded teeth, too much space between teeth, extra teeth, missing teeth, or other irregularities in the teeth, jaws, and face. Bad bites may also result from trauma, thumb or pacifier sucking, airway obstruction, or dental disease.

Will my child’s teeth straighten out as they grow?

No. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as children grow. In fact, after permanent teeth emerge, the space available for your front teeth tends to decrease as you age.

Will my child need to have teeth extracted for braces?

Maybe. Sometimes removing teeth is required in order to achieve the best orthodontic results. Thanks to advances in technology and orthodontic procedures, removing teeth is less likely before. The likelihood that your child will need a tooth extraction can also be reduced through early orthodontic treatment.

How long will my child need to wear braces?

Treatment time depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic situation. Generally, treatment time lasts between 8-30 months. The average time a person spends wearing braces is 18-24 months.

How much to braces cost?

We cannot provide an exact cost until we have examined your child’s teeth and determined a treatment plan. During your initial examination, we will discuss the cost of your treatment and your financial options with you.

How often will my child need to meet with the orthodontist?

Most patients wearing braces will need to meet with the orthodontist every 5-10 weeks. If your child’s situation requires more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments more often.

Do braces hurt?

Braces should not hurt. Your child will feel some soreness and discomfort when their braces are initially placed, and after adjustments are made, but this soreness should go away within a few days at most. To relieve discomfort, you can have your child gargle with lukewarm saltwater, apply a heating bad or a warm washcloth, or use mild pain relievers.

If your child experiences pain or discomfort beyond a few days, you should schedule an appointment to check that all is well with his or her braces.

Can I still play sports and instruments while wearing braces?

Yes. You should be able to do all the same activities with braces that you could do without. We do, however, recommend that children involved in athletic activities or sports be fitted for a sports mouth guard to protect their teeth, lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, and braces.

Does my child need to visit the family dentist while wearing braces?

Yes! Regular visits with your dentist are more important than ever while wearing braces.

Are there foods my child should not eat while wearing braces?

Yes. Once you begin your treatment, we will provide you with specific instructions. Some of the foods to avoid include ice, hard candies, raw vegetables, and all sticky foods (such as caramel and taffy). Most of the orthodontic emergencies that occur are a result of braces that break due to contact with certain foods.

Can my child wear braces even though he/she has crowns and missing teeth?

Yes. A tooth with a crown will move just like your natural tooth. When your child is missing a tooth, orthodontic treatment will help the remaining teeth achieve a healthy alignment.

How often should my child brush his/her teeth while wearing braces?

We recommend that children in braces brush their teeth at least four times each day – after each meal and before going to bed. We will also provide special instruction on flossing with braces.