Early Treatment

Your trusted kids orthodontist, Dr. Kristine S. West, and the entire team at West Orthodontics understand that the foundation for a great smile begins during childhood. That’s why we’re proud to offer a variety of kids braces that will help set your child on the path toward a lifetime of healthy smiles. We recommend getting a head start on a beautiful smile by having your child visit his or her DeWitt and Lansing, MI kids orthodontist at an early age.

When Should My Child Visit the Orthodontist?

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, a child’s first visit to the orthodontist should be at the age of seven. We agree and encourage parents to have their children visit their DeWitt and Lansing, MI kids orthodontist at this age. The reason for this is because this age is typically when the adult molars emerge, giving your orthodontist the first chance to examine a child’s front-to-back and side-to-side teeth relationships and check for any orthodontic problems.

Having said that, an early screening doesn’t necessarily mean early treatment with kids braces as well. Even if your child has an orthodontic problem, in many instances, we’ll simply monitor your child’s growth and development and just wait until we determine when the most opportune time to begin treatment is. Doing this will allow your child to have the greatest chance for achieving optimal results during orthodontic treatment.

When a Child Needs Early Treatment

Crossbite – While treatment for most common orthodontic problems will usually start when all of the baby teeth are gone (typically around the ages of nine to 14), there are some conditions that are actually much easier to treat when they’re taken care of at an earlier age. This is because a child’s natural growth processes have hit their stride during this time. Some of these orthodontic conditions that are great choices for early treatment include the following.

Severe Crossbites – A crossbite is where the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. At West Orthodontics, we can treat this condition effectively with a device that’s known as a palatal expander. This device will gradually (and painlessly) widen the upper jaw. Crowding.

Severe Crowding – Crowding is when the patient’s jaws are too small to fit all of his or her teeth. To help the permanent teeth come in properly, we’ll either widen the patient’s jaw with a palatal expander or perform a tooth extraction.

Severe Underbites – Underbites are caused when the lower jaw grows larger than the upper jaw, which can result in bite problems. Orthodontic appliances, such as kids braces and headgear, are the best options for treating these problems. Protruding teeth.

Protruding Teeth – Teeth that protrude or stick out (mainly front teeth) are much more prone to getting chipped. This orthodontic condition can even create image problems for some children as well. Braces for kids and headgear are preferred to correct this condition.

Correcting Bad Habits

You may not have realized it, but orthodontic treatment can actually also treat bad oral habits as well. Some of these bad habits can be detrimental to a child’s oral health and hamper the development of his or her teeth, jaws, and mouth. Dangers of Thumb Sucking.

Thumb Sucking – This is a natural reflex that most toddlers and babies will have. This habit will typically go away on its own between the ages of two to four, but if the habit persists much longer afterward, the pushing of the thumb against the front teeth can make them shift and cause the jaws to change shape. This condition is what’s known as an open bite and it can impair speech.

Tongue Thrusting – This is a behavioral pattern in which the tongue protrudes through the anterior incisors. This habit will most often occur during speech or swallowing. If left untreated, it can also lead to an open bite.

Mouth Breathing – This is an abnormal breathing pattern where a person leaves his or her mouth open while breathing and air passes straight into the lungs. Mouth breathing can cause both the lower and the upper jaw to grow abnormally.

Child’s First Dental Check-Up
Healthy Teeth

Adolescent treatment is an optimal time to get orthodontic treatment as the teeth, gums, and mouth are still growing and forming. Adolescent treatment is performed while a child is between the ages of 11 to 18. While those undergoing treatment at an earlier age (as young as seven) will undergo early treatment, usually as a limited Phase 1 segment, and those over 18 will undergo adult treatment, age 11-20 is essentially the ‘sweet spot’ of orthodontic treatment when much is accomplished in the most efficient way.

Why Adolescence Is the Perfect Time for Orthodontic Treatment

By the age of 13, most adolescents will have lost all their primary teeth and their permanent teeth have come in. This is an excellent time for us to begin orthodontic treatment and fix any orthodontic problems, such as a bad bite, poor alignment, or tooth spacing problems. It’s also a good idea to perform treatment at this time because orthodontic problems don’t improve with age – they only get harder to treat and more expensive as well.

Benefits of Adolescent Treatment

Some of the reasons why adolescence is the perfect time for orthodontic treatment include the following:

  • A teenager’s jaw and face are still developing, making it much easier to treat orthodontic problems.
  • It will also cost less to treat orthodontic problems at this age.
  • The procedure will be quicker because the adolescent has a higher metabolism and therefore usually a faster rate of tooth movement.
  • There’s no negative stigma about wearing braces at this age because plenty of an adolescent’s peers will be wearing braces too.
Our Orthodontic Treatment Options

When you first come into our beautiful DeWitt, MI office, we’ll take pictures and x-rays of your mouth and possibly even make a model out of your bite. After this is done, Dr. West will do a thorough evaluation of your teeth and jaws, then we’ll develop an orthodontic treatment plan that will best suit your needs. Here are some of the most popular treatments that we’re likely to use.

Metal Braces 

These are the most common form of orthodontic treatment appliances. They achieved their popularity for good reason – they’re an effective, affordable, and time-tested method of moving teeth. Modern metal braces are now even more improved by being smaller and lighter than ever.

Clear Braces 

Clear braces are very similar to metal braces, but with one major difference – remove these braces are made of a ceramic material, granting a patient a much more discreet form of orthodontic treatment. If you’re interested in braces, but you’re worried about how you’ll look in them, clear braces may be a great option for you.

Lingual Braces 

While clear braces offer a discreet form of orthodontic treatment, lingual braces offer an invisible form of treatment! While those metal and clear braces are placed on the outsides of the teeth, lingual braces are placed on the interior part of the teeth where they can’t be seen by others.


Instead of using brackets and wires to shift teeth, utilizes plastic aligners. Like their name suggests, these aligners are made of a clear, polyurethane plastic that will offer a nearly invisible form of treatment. Also, unlike the other options that are fixed into a patient’s mouth, Invisalign is removable and only needs to be worn for about 22 hours a day. This means that you can take them out for eating, brushing, and special occasions.

How Long Will the Treatment Last?

Unfortunately, there’s really no general answer to this question – it entirely depends on the individual. Typically, the active stage of orthodontic treatment can last anywhere from six to 30 months. Each patient will get a personalized treatment plan from Dr. Kristine West, which will provide you with an estimate for how long treatment will last. After that, you’ll need to wear a retainer for another period of time in order to help maintain your new and improved smile.

Adult Treatment

At West Orthodontics, we aim to provide high-quality orthodontic treatments, such as braces and Invisalign, to patients of all ages from the Lansing and DeWitt, MI area. While many patients believe that they’re too old for braces, Dr. Kristine West frequently works with adult patients! You’re never too old to take advantage of the benefits that orthodontics has to offer; in fact, 25 percent of all orthodontic patients are adults. If you’ve ever been interested in braces for adults, now’s a better time than ever!

The Differences in Adult Treatment

While teeth can absolutely be straightened at any age, there are two differences with adult treatment. The first is that adults have already completed their growth and development of their jaws. This means that changing the actual jaw structure can’t be accomplished with orthodontic appliances the way that it can with a growing child.

Also, periodontal disease is much more frequent in adults. This is a big deal because periodontal health plays a major role in orthodontic treatment. If a patient’s gum tissues aren’t healthy, bone loss can occur and weaken the long-term prognosis of the teeth. Because of this issue, gum disease needs to be under control before orthodontic treatment can begin.

Our Braces for Adults

While all orthodontic appliances work by employing light, constant force in order to move teeth into proper alignment, how these forces are applied can vary. As numerous orthodontic innovations have become available in recent years, it’s given us many different options for giving you an even more beautiful smile. Our adult braces that we offer include:

Traditional Metal Braces.

Traditional Metal Braces – This is the traditional form of orthodontic treatment that you’re probably most familiar with. It’s popular for a reason – it’s a time-tested and effective method for shifting a patient’s teeth. Traditional metal braces feature small metal brackets that are bonded to the front of the teeth with a thin wire that runs through the brackets.

Clear Braces.

Clear Braces – The main difference between clear braces and metal braces is that the brackets in clear braces are made of ceramic, plastic, or a combination of the two. They’re hardly visible, with the exception of the wire that runs through the brackets. As a negative, clear braces are more susceptible to breaking than metal braces. 

Clear Orthodontic Aligners.

Clear Aligners (Invisalign) – Instead of using brackets and wires to shift a patient’s teeth, this treatment uses plastic, removable aligners that are created with the help of specialized computer software. You’ll actually get a series of these clear aligners to wear over your teeth; you’ll wear the sets in a designated order for two weeks each. Your teeth will gradually shift as each new set is worn. 

Lingual Braces.

Lingual Braces – These are essentially metal braces that are bonded to the back of your teeth instead of the front. Because they’re on the back of your teeth, they provide the most discreet orthodontic treatment since no one can see them. On the downside, they’re more expensive than traditional braces and they’ll take some time getting used to. 

After Treatment

After your orthodontic treatment is complete, you’ll need to wear a retainer. While the orthodontic treatment was meant to move your teeth into place, the retainer is designed to keep your teeth in their new positions. When teeth aren’t held in place by a retainer long enough for the supporting bone to develop around them, they can potentially drift back into their original, crooked positions. Make sure to wear your retainers as instructed so that all your hard work and effort during the treatment doesn’t go to waste.

Orthodontic Treatment Phases
  • 5 star review  Oh my gosh! :) I have way too many nice things to say about this great practice! To start, I was so impressed by not only the facility but by every staff member working in the office, including Dr. West! Their professionalism is off the charts, but it's the kindness and patience which everyone exhibits that sticks with me (and my tween daughter) the most! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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  • 5 star review  super nice staff they took me help me a lot

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  • 5 star review  Super fun and bright Orthodontics family! They're my favorite and I'm happy to be under their care!

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  • 5 star review  Dr. West and all the staff are fabulous here! So welcoming and friendly, and really put time towards you with each visit. Each patient gets high quality care in their treatment process! ???????? Highly recommend

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  • 5 star review  Everyone in the office is enjoyable to work with. I like how they put the ownership of their teeth and retainer (in our case) on my 9 year old. This made her more responsible for her own device and teeth. Easy to schedule, never a wait, clear communication on everything. Glad after a couple looks around town, we decided to choose West Ortho!

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