Salt Lake City: 801-272-9900
Smile Ranch

Early Orthodontics

- Click to schedule an appointment -

Early orthodontics refers to specialized practices that correct oral misalignment in children. Orthodontists know how important it is to identify and address these issues early on before they’re able to develop into harder-to-fix problems.

The specialists who work their magic in early orthodontics at our Salt Lake City, Lehi, and South Jordan offices have years of experience in providing premier orthodontics for kids. They understand the importance of catching issues such as crowding, overbite, underbite, and crossbite as quickly as possible.

The Basics of Orthodontic Development

You know that your child grows and develops at a rate that, for parents, can seem way too fast. Oral development in children is a fascinating process that begins with the emergence of baby teeth. From there, the jaw grows and expands, making room for permanent teeth to move into place. However, patterns of growth that influence lifelong issues like crowding and misalignment begin before the permanent teeth make their appearance. This helps orthodontists be able to evaluate and predict problems that will need addressing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Early Orthodontics:

Both our team of expert early orthodontists and the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommend that children have their first orthodontic consultation by age 7. While braces for kids are not usually needed at this age, your orthodontist will be able to assess development and make a game plan.

During the initial consultation, the orthodontist will:

  1. Assess dental development.
    Your child’s orthodontist will use the initial consultation to assess your child’s oral development, the alignment of existing teeth, and the emerging patterns of permanent teeth.

  2. Identify potential issues.
    Even if your child hasn’t gotten all of their permanent teeth just yet, there’s a lot that can be discovered no matter where they are developmentally. The orthodontist will analyze the growth patterns and alignment of existing teeth to identify any issues the child might experience in the future, including misalignment, crowding, and bite problems.

  3. Suggest a custom treatment plan.
    The orthodontist will evaluate the information gathered during the assessment and use it to develop a custom treatment plan. While some children may benefit from early treatment due to the complexity of their case, others may be monitored until the time is right.

Your child’s orthodontist will be able to determine how early he or she should begin their treatment. While most children don’t begin their orthodontic journey until around age 9, the following issues may be cause for earlier treatment:

  • Abnormal Tooth Eruption: When it comes to kids, oral development can happen on any number of different timelines. However, if you notice an irregular or delayed break-through of the primary teeth, it’s a good idea to have your child evaluated.

  • Pacifier or Thumb-Sucking Habits: While pacifier and thumb-sucking habits are incredibly common among young children, they can cause irregularities and misalignments as teeth develop. Children who continue these habits beyond age 3 are at a higher risk of experiencing alignment issues. So, try to help your child break destructive habits and consider a consultation with your orthodontist.

  • Tooth Loss or Decay: Things like decay and trauma can play a substantial role in the development, alignment, and health of teeth, causing them to fall out prematurely. If your child has experienced or currently shows signs of these things, it’s crucial that they be evaluated as soon as possible.

  • Difficulty Speaking or Chewing: If your child has trouble pronouncing certain sounds or easily chewing food, this could be a sign of misalignment or development issues.

  • Jaw Irregularities: Anything that seems out of the ordinary in alignment or jaw development, including bite issues, should be examined by an orthodontist as soon as possible.

  • Overlapping Teeth: Teeth that seem to crowd over the top of other teeth, even baby teeth, can be a sign that an early trip to the orthodontist may be in order.

While most patients will only need to go through the treatment process once, there are some factors that might cause an orthodontist to recommend additional treatment farther down the road. These factors include:

  • Early Childhood Orthodontic Treatment: Braces for kids younger than the standard age are typically aimed at correcting issues such as jaw irregularities, misalignment, bite issues, or speech and chewing problems. Because the child’s mouth may continue to develop following the treatment, your orthodontist will likely want to check back in later on to determine if any additional rounds of treatment are needed.

  • Wisdom Teeth and Jaw Growth: Wisdom teeth typically emerge during adolescence or early adulthood. When they do, they can cause jaw formation to shift, disrupting alignment. Those who went through orthodontic treatment during early childhood may require additional treatment after wisdom teeth erupt.

  • Oral Habits: If your child adopts a new habit after treatment, such as tongue thrusting, thumb-sucking, or teeth grinding, your orthodontist should reassess things. These kinds of habits can impact alignment even after braces and may be cause for additional rounds of treatment.

  • Relapse: While relatively rare, relapse can happen to anyone. Teeth may gradually revert back to their original positions, especially if the patient discontinues retainer use.

With so many orthodontic treatments available, it can be difficult to know which one is right for your child. Our orthodontists here at Smile Ranch will go over all available options with you and your child. These might include:

  • Traditional braces for kids
  • Damon (self-ligating) braces
  • Palatal expanders
  • Ceramic braces
  • Invisalign

The length of treatment is dependent on several factors. Case complexity, age, and development can all play a role in the number of rounds a child might need for braces. In addition, different types of treatments have different timeframes for completion. In order for your child’s orthodontist to give an estimate, they’ll need to take a look at the following considerations:

  • Type of Correction Needed: The complexity and severity of the issue or issues being addressed will determine how much treatment is needed. For cases where only minimal correction is needed to combat spacing or crowding, the treatment time will likely be shorter. However, bite problems or drastic misalignment issues will take longer to correct and may even require several rounds of treatment.

  • Type of Braces: The length of treatment will be dependent on the type of braces chosen. While new and innovative systems like Damon or self-ligating braces can often accomplish results in a shorter amount of time, traditional braces will likely take a bit longer depending on the number of rounds and adjustments needed.

  • Age and Development of Child: Your child’s age and stage of dental development will also determine the length of treatment. Younger patients with softer, more malleable jaws might experience faster tooth movement, requiring fewer rounds of braces.

  • At-Home Care: The more strictly children adhere to their orthodontist’s instructions for at-home care, the more likely they’ll be to soar through the treatment process. Encourage your child to be consistent with all appliances, such as rubber bands, retainers, or headgear. Attend all scheduled evaluations and adjustments, and help your child practice proper oral hygiene to ensure the treatment’s effectiveness.

  • Individual Response to Treatment: Each child is unique, as will be their response to treatment. Bone density, genetics, and oral health can play a significant role in the way their teeth and jaws respond to adjustments, impacting the length and intensity of treatment.

We understand that many children experience fear and anxiety when it comes to dental visits and procedures. Here at Smile Ranch Orthodontics, we’re devoted to creating a warm, welcoming environment where your child can feel safe, comfortable, and at ease. If your child is feeling nervous about getting braces, here are some things we recommend:

  1. Begin the Conversation Early
    Start talking to your child about braces and visits to the orthodontist as early as you can, before treatment is needed. The more familiar your child is when the time comes, the less daunting it will be.

  2. Discuss How They’re Feeling
    Let your child know that feeling anxious or afraid of new experiences is normal. Talk through their feelings together, and encourage them to express their fears to their orthodontist, as well.

  3. Talk Through the Process
    The better your child’s understanding of the process and treatment, the less fear of the unknown there will be. Talk through the consultation and treatment process and point out things that your child might be excited about. For many children, the option to choose colorful rubber bands and custom retainers is a great incentive. Here at Smile Ranch Orthodontics, our patients receive a delicious cookie at each visit — a perk that our young patients love. We also offer a really great Smile Bucks program that rewards kids with things like gift certificates for complying with treatment.

  4. Watch Videos or Read Books
    There are lots of great resources available for parents who wish to help guide their children through their orthodontic journeys. Children’s videos and books can be an excellent way to explain the process in a fun, child-friendly way, making the experience less mysterious and intimidating.

  5. Pay Us a Visit in Advance
    We encourage nervous patients to stop by for a non-treatment visit. This gives your child a chance to get to know the staff and environment before their first appointment. Kids can see that our office is a safe and welcoming place.

  6. Provide Distractions
    Distractions are a great way to calm your child during a visit to the office. Devices with headphones can be brought in to allow kids to enjoy their favorite music, an audiobook, or games while they’re waiting.

  7. Bring Their Favorite Comfort Item
    If your child has a beloved comfort item, such as a stuffed animal, toy, or blanket, allow them to bring it along. Having something comforting and familiar can help your child feel more at ease during a new experience.

If you’ve been searching for orthodontics for kids in the Salt Lake City, Lehi, or South Jordan areas, you’ve come to the right place. Our team at Smile Ranch Orthodontics is excited to welcome your child in and help them feel safe, comfortable, and cared for.

We understand that as a parent, you want the best for your child and their dental health. Your orthodontist of choice should be credentialed and have plenty of experience in early orthodontics. In addition, the atmosphere should be warm and inviting, and the practice should have a long history of happy patients. That’s why we invite you to visit our offices. We have been creating beautiful smiles for young patients since 1988. You can check out our testimonials page to see why parents like you trust their kids’ orthodontic care to Smile Ranch.

Give our office a call to set up an appointment and discuss any questions you might have with our helpful and knowledgeable staff. And before you know it, your child will be well on their way to a healthier, happier smile.

Smile Ranch Orthodontics

Smile Support Staff

With their extensive knowledge and friendly demeanor, our dedicated Orthodontic team ensures that every patient receives personalized attention and support throughout their orthodontic journey, making the path to a perfect smile as comfortable and smooth as possible. You can trust our exceptional orthodontic team to be your smile’s greatest advocates and partners in achieving the results you desire.

Smile Ranch Google Reviews

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Stacy Olson

Three out of four kids have had braces through Smile Ranch in Lehi. They have been awesome to work with and have worked around our schedule. Thank you!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Michelle Williams

We have been using Dr Jensen for a year. It has been a great experience. He is very knowledgeable and takes time to explain to his clients. Great staff and program.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amelia Miyasaki

We love Smile Ranch! Dr. J is fantastic, and the office staff is outstanding! The office is super efficient (three patients in and we’ve never had an unreasonable wait) but we never feel like a number, everyone is so helpful and friendly.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Whitney Rasmussen

Dr. J did my braces a few years ago and I was so amazed with his work. I absolutely love my smile and have received so many compliments on my teeth. I send everyone I know to the smile ranch, including my own kids who have just started braces!! 😁 woo hoo! They also have the best staff and make it so fun. Fresh cookies and rewards for the kids to earn smile bucks that turn into gift cards👍 We love smile ranch!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Aubrie Haymore

We love Dr. J and all the staff! They are soooo kind and my sons bite has improved and we are so grateful! We love them and I’ll bring all my kids here!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Rachel Gardner

I love Smile Ranch! I took my oldest daughter here over a year ago. Her teeth look great. Im now back with my 10 year old daughter and myself. Dr J is extremely good at what he does and his staff are amazing. The most welcoming, loving and positive energy. My daughter has anxiety and Dr J and his staff have been so great to talk with her and explain what they are doing. They have eased her worries. They stay on schedule, but you never feel they are rushing you out their door. They truly care about you as a person and take pride in a job well done. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Emily Chidester

I am on my fourth child having orthodontic treatment from Smile Ranch and couldn’t be happier. Initially I went to three other orthodontics for consults and felt that Dr. Alan Jensen was the only orthodontist with the experienced needed to care for my one of my child’s treatment. We have had traditional braces, expanders, and Invisalign. The care we receive from the doctor and staff each time we visit is wonderful. I know that my children are getting the best smiles thanks to the care at Smile Ranch.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Amy Sackett
This is the best place ever! You are so loved everyone is invested on you. It’s the most personable kind environment. And homemade cookies every visit. What’s not to love about that.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Robyn Green

We love Smile Ranch! We’ve had nothing but positive experiences and everyone there is amazing and friendly. It feels like a second home, so comfortable and welcoming.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Betsy Broadwater

I love this office! Dr. Jensen and staff make it so easy! They’re so kind to my family and they do a great job. They’re super easy to schedule with. They have a fun office atmosphere and I love taking my boys in. They know what they are doing and they do it well. They give us (all of us!) cookies after every appointment, the office is nice and clean and we are going to miss coming in here now that boys are getting braces off! … and most importantly, my boys’ teeth look fabulous!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Julie Johnson

Happy, clean atmosphere with friendly staff. We appreciate the care and attention they give. We have been very impressed with Dr. Jensen and the hygienists and their expertise. We have been very happy with the results so far!

Scroll to Top

Salt Lake City
Request Appointment

Call now 801-272-9900 or
Complete the form, and we’ll contact you soon.

Request Appointment

Call now 801-768-2100 or
Complete the form, and we’ll contact you soon.

South Jordan
Request Appointment

Call now 801-254-2700 or
Complete the form, and we’ll contact you soon.