Treatment for children and teens

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children see an orthodontist starting around age 7. This allows us to evaluate your child’s teeth and jaw alignment to see if early intervention is needed to prevent more complex issues or lengthier treatment down the road. If no treatment is needed, your child’s teeth will be monitored for changes as they grow and develop so that any potential issues are caught early. 

children treatment

Two-Phase Treatment

Sometimes, Dr. McKinney will recommend a two-phase treatment for children. This treatment is a specialized process that combines tooth straightening and physical, facial changes. The purpose of two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional, and aesthetic result that will remain stable throughout your child’s life.

What if treatment is put off?

Putting off treatment can result in a need for more invasive treatment later in life that may not completely fix your child’s smile. Early treatment is most effective for achieving lasting results.

Phase 01

Planning now can save your child’s smile later

Children benefit tremendously from early-phase treatment. Receiving early treatment may prevent the removal of permanent teeth later in life, or the need for surgical procedures to realign the jaws.

Making records to determine your child’s unique treatment

Orthodontic records will be necessary to determine the type of appliances to be used, the duration of treatment time, and the frequency of visits. Records consist of X-rays and photographs. During your child’s initial consultation, the doctor will take records to determine if early treatment is necessary.

Resting period

In this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are left alone as they erupt. Retaining devices may not be recommended if they would interfere with eruption. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement. A successful first phase will have created room for permanent teeth to find an eruption path. Otherwise, they may become impacted or severely displaced.

Monitoring the teeth’s progress

At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.

Phase 02

The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. Phase Two usually involves full upper and lower appliances.

At the beginning of the first phase, orthodontic records were made and a diagnosis and treatment plan was established. Certain types of appliances were used in the first phase to correct and realign the teeth and jaw. The second phase begins when all permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires braces or aligners on all the teeth for an average of 24 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure your child retains his or her beautiful smile.


Many of our young patients come in with uncertainties – Does my child need braces? How long will they have to wear braces? How much will braces cost? Our new patient consultations are always free, with no obligation. Dr. McKinney and our friendly staff will sit down with you and your family in our consultation room, evaluate your child’s unique orthodontic needs, discuss treatment options, and address any concerns or questions you may have. Our goal is for you and your family to leave informed and comfortable with your treatment plan. And we are always here to support you in each step of the way!