Orthodontic Topics

Your first visit

During your child’s exam, we may perform a diagnostic exam that includes a panoramic x-ray. This panoramic x-ray can be helpful in determining when and if orthodontic treatment is appropriate. Part of Dr. Walker’s training includes strong background of orthodontics, which is important as we monitor the growth, development and spacing of your children’s’ teeth. The orthodontic treatment in our office is limited to phase 1 orthodontics (see below). As we monitor your child’s growth and development, we can make a recommendation to an orthodontist when appropriate.

Phase 1 Orthodontic Treatment

Some patients benefit from some orthodontic treatment before they have all of their permanent teeth. This is referred to as Phase I or First Phase orthodontic treatment. This phase of treatment aims and addressing any problems that could affect the development of the jaws, teeth, or bite down the road. When Phase I orthodontics is recommended, it is usually aimed at a specific problem that needs to be addressed. We will explain what might be recommended and why in addition to what problems might be encountered if Phase I orthodontic treatment does not happen. Phase I orthodontics can prevent problems that can be much more severe if not addressed early. Most patients that have Phase I orthodontics will benefit from a second phase when all of their permanent teeth have grown in.

Cleaning & Care

Brushing & tooth care

While wearing braces, your child should brush thoroughly three times a day for 4-5 minutes each time. They should also floss once each day. They should pay special attention to removing food particles from between the braces and their gum line. Have them look closely in the mirror after brushing and brush again if they see any food or white, fuzzy plaque. During your orthodontic visits, we will show you some tools your child can use to thoroughly clean their teeth and braces.


While wearing braces, your child should avoid sticky food like gum, taffy, and caramel as they will get stuck to the braces and can damage the intricate parts of the braces and wires that are important. Also avoid hard food like ice, croutons, nuts, hard candy, and popcorn because they can break the wires and other appliances. Do not let your child chew on fingernails, pencils, or other hard objects, since this can also break the braces and result in extra expense and more trips to the orthodontist to fix them. It is a good idea to cut up fruits and vegetables like apples, corn on the cob, and carrots and eat them in small bites.

Mouth Guards

If your child plays sports, they should wear braces-specific mouth guards to protect their teeth, the braces, and the other players. Our office prefers Shock Doctor braces mouth guards. If they are hit in the mouth, they should check the braces and appliances to see if anything is loose. If a piece does come loose or is damaged, call our office to schedule an appointment to fix it.

Retainers and follow up

After finishing treatment with braces or other orthodontic appliances, your child will probably be given a retainer to wear to help prevent the teeth from shifting back to their original positions. Retainers are worn for a lifetime to maintain the position of the teeth. Even after many years, the teeth will shift if retainers are not worn each night. Like the rest our body, the teeth always change over time, and consistent retainer wear is the only way to keep teeth straight.

Your child should remove the retainers when eating or swimming. It is important to always put retainers in their case and not forget them at the end of a meal.

Retainers should be treated with care so they don’t break. Keep them away from excessive heat, washing machines, and pets. If your child loses or breaks their retainer, call us immediately to get another one so their teeth do not shift.

Retainers should be brushed once a day with a toothbrush and warm (not hot) water. This removes plaque and germs and will help prevent odors. You can also purchase Retainer Brite online to remove any tartar that may begin to form on retainers.