At what age should my child’s bite be evaluated?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an initial consultation no later than age 7. By age 7, enough permanent teeth have come in and enough jaw growth has occurred that problems can be identified. Early consultation allows Dr. Fornatto to determine the optimum time for treatment to begin. Many parents assume that they must wait until a child has all of his or her permanent teeth, only to find out that treatment would have been much easier if started earlier. Early treatment can eliminate the need for more drastic measures. In some cases, satisfactory results are unattainable once the face and jaws have finished growing. With proper timing, children may not have to endure years of embarrassment. Adults can be treated at any age as long as the gums and bone holding the teeth are healthy.


Are there early warning signs of a “bad bite?”

It is most important to examine your child's teeth as the permanent teeth grow in. Although children mature at different rates, there are some averages for permanent tooth arrival. Some signs that may indicate the need for an early orthodontic examination:

Deep Bite

Do the upper teeth completely hide the lower teeth when your child bites down? Does your child bite on the roof of their mouth?

Open Bite

Do the upper and lower teeth not meet in the front when your child bites together?

Overjet

Do the upper front teeth seem to be more noticeable and stick out quite a bit more when compared to the lower front teeth?

Facial Asymmetry
When you look at your child from the front, does it appear that their face or chin is shifted to one side? Are they growing crooked?

Cross Bite

When you look into your child’s mouth are the upper teeth on the inside of the lower teeth? Think of the upper jaw as the “garage” and the lower jaw as the “car.” The garage should be bigger than the car.

Habits
Does your child suck their finger or thumb? Do they breathe through their mouth instead of through their nose? Do they stick their tongue between their teeth when they swallow?

Crowding

Are the permanent teeth starting to come in crowded?

Headaches
Does your child complain frequently of headaches? If your child grinds their teeth, or has a deep bite, the muscles may be over worked and can contribute to headaches in children.

Earaches
Sometimes a bad bite or a deep bite can cause undue pressure on the small membranes of the ear, contributing to earaches.


Why early treatment?

Early treatment would be recommended if there are certain discrepancies in the development of the upper and lower jaws. Early treatment can correct these problems in the early growth phase of your child (utilizing a functional appliance), which develops the bone to a more normal size, to allow enough room for the permanent teeth to erupt.


What are the benefits of early treatment?

  • Improve profiles, smiles, and self-esteem
  • Correct harmful habits
  • Improve speech from expanding the arches and making more room for the tongue
  • Reduce the time in braces and frequently eliminates the need for the extraction of permanent teeth
  • Prevent the fang look. Upper eye teeth (cuspids) are the last teeth to erupt on the upper arch. If the jaw is too narrow, patients get the fang look.
  • Prevent possibility of facial asymmetry with the expansion of the upper jaw and the correction of the posterior crossbite
  • Improve head posture which helps eliminate neck pain
  • Prevents grinding at night
  • Improves nasal breathing
  • Prevents gum recession


If my child has early treatment, will she have to wear braces?

Once the early phase of treatment is finished your child will be evaluated on an ongoing basis to monitor the eruption of the permanent teeth. Once the permanent teeth are all present we will set up a consultation appointment to determine whether there is a need for braces. Usually orthodontics, which means fixed braces, does not begin until the patent has all their permanent teeth (age 11 to 13). While braces are the most popular among younger patients, they can be worn as a teenager or an adult. More adults these days are asking for braces to help improve their smile and appearance.


Will any teeth have to be pulled?

Possibly. Dr. Fornatto’s philosophy is not to extract teeth unless absolutely necessary. With early treatment many upper and lower jaw problems, that in the past made pulling teeth necessary, are corrected. If an extraction is needed, don’t worry. Most patients recover in 1-2 days. The space made by the missing tooth will be closed and no one will even notice.


How do braces straighten crooked teeth?

Braces use steady, gentle pressure over time to move teeth into their proper positions. They don't look like they're doing much-just sitting there, but in fact, every moment of your orthodontic treatment, there's something happening in your mouth. Something good for you. The brackets placed on your teeth and the main arch wire that connects them, are the two main components. The bracket is a piece of specially shaped metal or ceramic that we affix to each tooth. Then we bend the arch wire to reflect your 'ideal" bite-what we want you to look like after treatment. The wire threads through the brackets and, as the wire tries to return to its original shape, it applies pressure to actually move your teeth. Picture your tooth resting in your jaw bone. With pressure on one side from the arch wire, the bone on the other side gives way. The tooth moves. New bone grows in behind. It may look like nothing is happening but we're making a new smile here. Thanks to new materials and procedures, all this happens much quicker than ever before. It's kind of an engineering feat.


What foods can’t I eat with braces?

The goals of braces are simple: give wearers straight teeth and a terrific smile. To reach this end, however, wearers must hold up their end of the bargain by doing more than brushing and flossing regularly. Not to spoil your appetite, but some foods can loosen or break braces and should be scratched from your menu—at least until the braces come off. Here are your braces’ biggest enemies:

  • Apples: Don’t bite into a whole one! Cut it into thin wedges first.
  • Bagels and hard rolls: Convicted culprits of bending wires and loosening brackets.
  • Beef jerky: Your braces don’t stand a chance against this leathery food.
  • Bubble gum: Trust us, there’s nothing worse than spending hours picking gum from your braces.
  • Candy canes or suckers: You might weaken and take a bite!
  • Caramels and chewy candies: And you thought bubble gum was messy.
  • Chicken wings: You can enjoy these if you first cut the meat off the bone.
  • Corn chips: Anything that crunches when you bite it is bad news for braces.
  • Corn on the cob: If you must, remove the kernels from the cob with a knife, then enjoy!
  • Fingernails: Now’s the perfect time to kick that bad habit.
  • Fruit Roll-Ups: See bubble gum.
  • Gummi anything: See bubble gum.
  • Hard candies: Can loosen wires and dislodge brackets.
  • Hard cookies: Good news: You can have these if you soften them with milk.
  • Ice cubes: No crunching!
  • Nuts: All varieties—including peanuts, cashews and almonds—are off limits.
  • Pears: Just like you would with apples, cut them into thin wedges first.
  • Peanut brittle: Anything that crunches when you bite it is bad news for braces.
  • Pens and pencils: Don’t laugh, a lot of students can’t stop chewing on these inedible school supplies.
  • Pickles: If you have a craving, cut them into bite-sized pieces.
  • Popcorn: Great with movies, bad with braces.
  • Pizza Crust: Good news: the rest of the pie is fine!
  • Pretzels: Bends wires, loosens bands and knocks off brackets.
  • Raw carrots: If have a Bugs Bunny-like adoration for these orange veggies, steam or boil them for a much less crunchy consistency.
  • Ribs: Just like you would with chicken wings, take the meat off the bone first.
  • Sugary candy: Can lodge beneath brackets and wires, leading to tooth decay.
  • Taffy: It’s best to avoid this stuff entirely—even if you don’t have braces.

Contact Us

Daniel J. Fornatto, DDS

(630) 834-0648
917 S York Street Elmhurst, IL 60126