Idaho Pediatric Dentistry

Orthodontics Introduction


Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is "malocclusion," which means "bad bite." 

The results of orthodontic treatment can be dramatic — beautiful smiles, improved dental health and an enhanced quality of life for people of all ages. Orthodontic problems must be diagnosed before treatment begins. Proper diagnosis involves careful study of photographs, x-rays, and dental impressions.

Treatment typically lasts from 6 to 30 months, depending on age, and the severity of the orthodontic problem. Outstanding results are also highly dependent on maximum cooperation and coordination of care between you and our practice. We are committed to delivering the best possible service in order for you to achieve your orthodontic goals.

What’s the right age for Orthodontic Treatment?
All children should receive their first orthodontic evaluation by age seven. This allows early identification of potential problems. Certain orthodontic conditions are also best treated at this age. Full braces are placed after most of the permanent teeth erupt, generally age ten to twelve. Adults are also prime candidates for orthodontic treatment.

The timing of your treatment is VERY important; a consultation will allow us to better understand your needs. Please contact our office if you have any questions.

How do braces work?
There are two main components of braces, brackets, which are bonded directly to the tooth, and archwires, that connect the brackets. Contrary to what most people think; it is the archwire that actually moves the teeth. The brackets serve only as "handles". The archwire generates a steady gentle pressure to move the teeth into their proper position.

Like moving a stick through sand, as the tooth moves, the bone gives way on one side, and fills in on the other. Elastics are used to make the upper and lower teeth bite together properly.  


Teeth sit very close together at the gumline. Separators, donut shaped elastics that are placed between your teeth to separate them slightly so that orthodontic bands can be fitted comfortably.  Separators are usually placed three to seven days prior to fitting the bands.

Separators can come out by themselves when:

  1. there is enough space between your teeth.
  2. a child plays with them with their fingers or tongue.
  3. from sticky foods or chewing gum.

If your separator comes out, it may just mean that the separator has done its job! You can do a little test to see if there is now adequate space for your orthodontic bands:

Floss between two teeth. Ifthe floss gets stuck, the separator has not made enough space as yet and you will need to have them replaced.

If the floss does not get stuck, then you are ready for your bad fitting appointment!


Orthodontic headgear is a very important part of the treatment for some patients. Headgear creates a force that guides the growth of the face and jaws. It also is used to move teeth into better positions or to prevent teeth from moving.

Consistent wear of the headgear is necessary to achieve the best results. If our instructions are not followed, treatment will take longer or the treatment plan may have to be changed.

Always be careful when removing your headgear. If the headgear is removed carelessly, the part that fits in your mouth and attaches to your teeth could injure your lips, cheeks, face and possibly your eyes.

Never remove the headgear until the straps have been disconnected.

Never lift the headgear over your face.

Never wear the headgear when running or playing sports.

Take your headgear with you to every appointment. If it becomes soiled, the doctors will tell you how it should be cleaned.

Your teeth may be tender for the first few days of wearing your headgear. This tenderness will disappear as you adjust to the new pressures.

Let us know if you continue to be uncomfortable for more than a few days. Wearing headgear is necessary for your treatment. Follow the instructions exactly, and you will complete your treatment on time, without changes in the treatment plan.