Orthodontics/braces

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Question
My soon to be 13 year old son has had braces on for 2 years and 3 months.  He got braces to fix an overbite.  His orthodontist said his teeth are in the perfect position now...everything is perfect except his 12 year molars have not come in and she doesn't want to take them off until they come in.  We can request to have them taken off if we don't want to wait.  I am very undecided about this..I would hate to take them off and his teeth move when the molars eventually come in.  What are your thoughts?

Answer
Hello Becky. I'm not an orthodontist, but I provide resource information on various aspects of the field. I had both teen and adult braces (because of a new gap after not wearing retainers), and I also had three children in braces - one for more than six years in three different stages, because of a difficult-to-close open bite. One of those stages involved having space-maintainers in place, to keep spaces open for adult teeth to come into; that worked out very nicely.

I'd ask these questions:
1) is your son basically cooperative about having braces (maintaining good hygiene habits, getting cleanings, avoiding hard foods that would break off brackets)?
2) Will the follow-up visits, as those teeth come in, be at no cost to you - in other words, would this all still be considered part of the treatment plan you agreed to originally? What is the orthodontist's time estimate for when those teeth will come in?
3) Is she going to put brackets on those new teeth, to do any additional positioning, or will this simply be a matter of "let the teeth come in and then take the braces off?" (Either way could be fine - just interesting to know, because that could lengthen the time.)

My personal (non-medical) thought is to keep them on, to keep the good work from undoing itself, until the 12-year-molars fill in the intended spaces. However, you'll be in better position to make that decision if you get answers to these questions. I hope they help. And do stress the importance of wearing the retainer afterwards. Long term, it really should be worn at night forever to keep that great new smile. Best wishes.

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Pamela Waterman

Expertise

I can supply tips, hints, recipes and resources about a braces-friendly lifestyle, for parents of children and teens in braces as well as for adults in braces. Although I am not a medical/dental professional, I have colleagues in the field and will do my best to point you to additional resources.

Experience

I am the author of two specialty award-winning cookbooks of soft-food recipes and tips targeted to all ages of braces-wearers (including adults) and give workshops to dental hygienists to help them help their patients with this type of information. I have worn braces both as a teen and as an adult, and am from a family of three generations of braces patients. I regularly contribute information to the public website of the American Association of Orthodontists and Orthotown magazine.

Organizations
Women in Orthodontics, American Academy for Oral Systemic Health, Independent Book Publishers Association, Society of Women Engineers, Society of Manufacturing Engineers

Publications
Orthotown, Cricket, Family Fun, Highlights, Better Homes and Gardens Kids' Rooms, Chicago Tribune, East Valley Tribune (Phoenix AZ), Healthy Alternatives, Organic & Natural, Desktop Engineering, Machine Design

Education/Credentials
BS Astrophysics, MS Radio Astronomy/Electrical Engineering

Awards and Honors
Good Parenting Award from ParentalWisdom.com Glyph Award - Best Cookbook, Arizona Book Publishing Association Finalist Glyph Award - Best Cookbook, Arizona Book Publishing Association Finalist - Next Generation Indie Books, Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group

Past/Present Clients
American Association of Orthodontists, Smile for a Lifetime

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