Your Kids Orthodontist Go To Guide: Everything You Need to Know & More

Perhaps a recent dental visit has led to the suggestion that your child needs to see an orthodontist. Or, maybe you are simply curious about a first-time orthodontic visit. For many, the term orthodontist equates to braces, and although tooth alignment is the primary service offered through a kids orthodontist, the scope of orthodontics embraces much more.

Find out how your orthodontist will not only help provide your child with the perfect smile but how early detection, prevention, and treatment can make the process easier. The visit can also help create a foundation for healthier dental hygiene and more.

Best Practices of a Kids Orthodontist

According to the Diplomats of the American Board of Orthodontics, a study revealed that orthodontists were in agreement regarding the value and necessity of early orthodontic treatment. The sooner a child is assessed by an orthodontist, the better his or her chance for correcting issues such as skeletal and muscular issues that may require surgery if delayed. By addressing these potential problems at an early stage, orthodontists have:

  • An opportunity to monitor and make necessary adjustments while growth is still taking place
  • Help encourage self-confidence in the patient and achieve parental satisfaction
  • Produce more positive and consistent outcomes
  • Prevent serious, more invasive treatment
  • Minimize possible tooth damage

Many times to provide the best orthodontic service, there may be the need for two-phase treatment: Phase-One and Phase-Two.

Everything You Need to Know About Phase-One and Phase-Two Orthodontic Treatment

Not all children require immediate orthodontic treatment. The best way to find out if your child needs braces, or other corrective procedure, is to schedule a full an initial adolescent orthodontist consultation. The recommended age for your child’s first orthodontist visit is 7 years-old.

A consultation typically consists of a visit in which medical and dental history is evaluated and includes a full examination to determine whether phase-one or phase-two treatment is required. Or, if treatment can be delayed.


Again, early orthodontic detection and prevention can ensure maximum dental health, comfort, and aesthetics. Phase-one treatment is utilized during a time when the jaws are still growing, and are therefore more malleable.

Addressing early orthodontic issues, adolescent orthodontics can remedy harmful oral habits and behaviors such as incorrect biting and chewing. In addition, a kids orthodontist can help navigate teeth into appropriate positioning, lower the potential of protruding or damaged teeth, and improve the overall appearance of not simply teeth, but the lips and face as well.

Phase-one treatment can also address the specific issues of:

  • Crossbite – occurs when top teeth rest inside bottom teeth, potentially causing the jaw to grow out of alignment
  • Underbite – when the bottom front teeth jut out in front of upper teeth, due to lower jaw growth or positioning of the teeth
  • Crowding – when teeth do not have adequate space and usually occurs when baby teeth are replaced by permanent teeth
  • Spacing Issues – sometimes just as there is too much space for new teeth, there are gaps or too much space between them
  • Ectopic Eruption – can happen when permanent teeth “grow in” at odd or incorrect angles,causing possible impaction of permanent teeth
  • Open Bite – a byproduct of top and bottom front teeth not overlapping, often caused by tongue thrusting or thumb-sucking
  • Overbite (deep bites) – when the top teeth extend too far over lower teeth
  • Excess overjet– (protrusion) The top teeth extend too far forward from the lower teeth
  • Missing Teeth – congenitally missing, or due to an injury/accident

Depending on the procedure and individual, a phase-one treatment can last anywhere from 6 to 12 months.


Although early detection is a favored treatment pathway, phase-two is equally reliable in addressing orthodontic issues. In fact, an estimated 90% of adolescent patients can be treated for the same corrective issues designated as part of phase-one.

Phase-two, in addition to addressing many of the same issues listed in phase-one, can also include:

  • Alignment of permanent teeth with traditional braces
  • Other means of correcting and improving the placement and functionality of teeth
  • Techniques to improve the aesthetics and positioning of teeth, jaw structure, and overall facial appearance

Although the timing of phase-two treatment will vary for each patient, it generally can take anywhere from 12 to 30 months to correct an issue.

What Happens During an Initial Orthodontist Appointment?

Once you schedule a consultation for your child’s first orthodontic visit, it’s only natural to be curious about what will happen.

At Riesenberger Orthodontics, we are dedicated at making our patients comfortable. This is especially important during a first visit, when children may be nervous or worried about what to expect.

Part of eliminating the fears of children and their parents is keeping them informed – this includes before, during, and after each visit.

During an initial consultation, our team will gather previous and a current medical dental history. Once we have learned more about our new patient, he or she will receive a full and comprehensive orthodontic examination. The entire process takes about 45 minutes.

The subsequent Orthodontic Records visit will often include a more in-depth diagnostic examination in which X-Rays, photos, and impressions for models are made in preparation for treatment.

What Happens If My Child Needs Braces?

With over 4-million Americans wearing braces, 75% of whom are children, it’s not unusual for parents to have questions about how the orthodontic process of braces works. Take a look at some common questions and answers regarding braces:

Will my child require X-Rays to receive braces?

Yes, in order for an orthodontist to properly evaluate the position and eruption of teeth in relationship to the jaw, X-Rays must be taken. X-rays will be taken of the head and jaw relationship as well. To keep parents’ minds at ease, the American Dental Association mandates that dental X-Rays remain well below the allowable radiation level. This can be made possible by digital dental X-Rays.

Is tooth extraction mandatory when getting braces?

Not necessarily. After a full oral exam, an orthodontist determines whether overcrowding is an issue, in which case a tooth may need to be removed to allow proper alignment and eruption of the teeth.

Should my child wait to get braces until all of their permanent teeth have erupted?

No. There has been ample research conducted on the “right” or “better” age to receive braces, and while both sides who advocate for either early intervention or alternately, for waiting have compelling arguments, data reflects that the perfect age is directly linked to what is best for each individual patient.

Does it take a long time to put braces on?

Before putting on braces your child’s teeth will be cleaned and dried to help affix the bonding material necessary to keep brackets in place. Once the brackets are secure, the process can be completed. The entire procedure takes anywhere from 1 to 11/2 hours.

Does getting braces hurt?

The process may cause soreness but generally, does not generate a high degree of pain.

The Advantages of Practicing Preventative Care

While early detection and treatment are vital to maximizing orthodontic success, preventative care is paramount to the process.

Adolescence can be challenging on the mind and body. Implementing proper oral hygiene routines establishes healthy patterns of behavior and has the potential to prevent conditions like gingivitis and periodontal disease—issues that often impact kids and teens.

Equal to the task of correcting the positioning and eruption of teeth, it’s our team’s goal of empowering children (of all ages) and caregivers with the best practices in brushing, flossing, and the importance of maintaining a healthy diet—all of which are essential to optimal dental health.

More About Dr. Riesenberger as Your Choice For Your Orthodontist

Specializing as a kids Orthodontist, Dr. James Riesenberger comes with years of education and extensive skills in treating adolescents. As a member of the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) and a Graduate of both Temple University School of Dentistry (2nd in a class of 110) and having completed orthodontic residency where he earned a certificate in orthodontics and Masters of Dental Science, Dr. Riesenberger has treated a diverse range of orthodontic issues and continues to to stay informed on the latest and most innovative treatments.

In addition to his expertise in adolescent orthodontics, Dr. Riesenberger has a skilled team of orthodontic care assistants. Each staff member is friendly, knowledgeable and trained to provide optimal customer service.

At Riesenberger Orthodontics, we are dedicated to providing our patients with the best that orthodontic care and treatment has to offer, this includes the newest technology, comfortable surroundings and pleasant environment.

Do you have more questions about scheduling an initial kids orthodontist appointment, or what to expect during a visit? We have a friendly, highly-skilled team that is ready to answer any questions you have and help you set up a consultation. Please call us today at 215-968-5471.

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