Orthodontics

We do more than straighten teeth. See how our approach to orthodontics focuses on creating harmony with your facial features.

Our Orthodontic Services

 
  • Damon Clear Braces
  • Implant planning, sequencing, and coordination
 

Orthodontic Specialists For All Ages

First Orthodontic Visit - Explaining xray to child
First Orthodontic Visit

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends children have their first orthodontic visit at age seven. Also known as the “Lucky number seven” visit because at this age, most children have begun the transition into the mixed dentition (a mixture of baby and permanent teeth).

Lucky Seven


For seven-year-olds, teeth are a “hot topic” everywhere; friends are losing teeth, there are tooth charts at school, and The Tooth Fairy is making frequent visits. It's a big deal for them, and a great time for parents to inculcate proper oral care.

"It’s a great hallmark stage to see exactly where the patient is at and rule out potential issues requiring early intervention.” - Dr. Gordon Dixon, San Diego orthodontist.

At their first orthodontic visit, we enjoy talking with patients and parents about the exciting changes that are occurring as the permanent teeth begin to erupt. Additionally, we will observe and review the following:

  • Growth and development of teeth
  • Bite/Occlusion/Function
  • Facial harmony
  • TMJ Health
  • X-rays (if needed)
  • Baseline and measurements of spacing/crowding

Our pediatric dentists and orthodontists work closely together as a team to facilitate the care for our patients. If the pediatric dentist sees a potential issue like an impacted, crowded, or poorly positioned tooth, they may have the orthodontist come over immediately to check it out.
Also, when a child with braces comes in for a cleaning, the orthodontist can easily remove and put back on the wires or appliance for a more thorough cleaning. We believe our team approach is a huge benefit and convenience for our patients.

 
Early Orthodontics - Young Girl with Braces
Early Orthodontics

Depending on the scope and seriousness of the problem being addressed, early orthodontic (also known as Phase One) care is generally completed in about 6-18 months!

Phase One (typically beginning around age 8-9, while Phase Two begins around age 9-11) allows for timely detection of problems and corrective treatment options that may not be possible as a teenager or adult.

"When a significant problem is identified early in your child's development, early orthodontic treatment may often eliminate the need for more aggressive (and costly) treatments that would be required later on. Since their jaw and teeth are still developing, we have much room to work with and significant time savings.” - Dr. Gordon Dixon

Dr. Thurston and Dr. Gordon Dixon will thoroughly review with you when any orthodontic needs for your child are most effectively addressed.

The goals of early treatment are to correct severe growth disturbances of the jaw (overbite, underbite, crossbites) and re-establish harmony in facial/skeletal growth. Early treatment also helps make room for permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance for extractions in the future.

As an ounce of prevention, early orthodontics can improve the following imperfections:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or a shifting bite
  • Prolonged thumb, finger, or tongue habits
  • Crowded, misplaced, or blocked out teeth
  • Speech problems
  • Biting of the cheeks or roof of the mouth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Teeth that don’t meet or meet abnormally
  • Facial imbalance or asymmetry
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth
  • Inability to comfortably close the lips
  • Alterations in skeletal/jaw harmony

If you recognize any of these problems, San Diego orthodontic experts Dr. Thurston and Dr. Gordon Dixon can provide a comfortable solution for your child.

 
Two-Phase Orthodontics - Kids smiling
Two-Phase Orthodontics

Does my child need two-phases of treatment?


Not necessarily. Some children can benefit from early orthodontic treatment (also called Phase I Orthodontic Treatment). For example: if your child has severe crowding of the permanent teeth, aesthetic concerns, jaw growth discrepancies, space loss in one or both dental arches, or functional problems (crossbites, deep bites, underbites, or protrusions), then it's reasonable to address these problems early on to avoid future expenses and further damage in the teen-adulthood years.

How long does it take?


An average two-phase treatment plan consists of the first phase of approximately 12-18 months of active orthodontics in the mixed dentition (permanent and baby teeth are present) at an average age of 7-9 years.
This is usually followed by a period of wearing retainers as the remaining permanent teeth erupt. The second phase of active orthodontic treatment follows the intermediate retention period once all of the permanent teeth have erupted, and takes approximately 1 ½ years.

What if I need to put off treatment?


Your orthodontists in San Diego, Dr. Thurston and Dr. Gordon Dixon understand life's circumstances may require delaying appropriate treatment for your child. They will discuss with you the advantages, disadvantages associated with them so that you may make an informed, educated treatment decision for you or your child.

Again, not all children will require early phase orthodontics. But as mentioned, treatment of severe crowding or functional problems at an early age will allow the orthodontist to utilize the patients’ active growth as well as produce benefits such as:

  • Decreasing the risk for dental trauma due to a protrusion or “buck teeth"
  • Decreasing the need for extractions of permanent teeth to align crowded teeth
  • Controlling harmful habits
  • Shortening the treatment for full braces during the critical “teen” years
  • Facilitating proper jaw growth and enhancing the facial profile (proper growth relationship of the upper and lower jaws to each other)
  • Customized program flexibility for both children and sometimes even adults

The total active treatment time for two phases of treatment is approximately 2 – 3 years split into two time periods to optimize long-term stability and harmonize aesthetics.

 
Orthodontics For Teens - Teen with Braces
Orthodontics For Teens

The confidence and self-esteem that comes with a great smile is a gift that is as rewarding for parents as it is for their teens. “It’s why we do what we do!” comments Dr. Thurston.

Although patients of all ages (including adults) may benefit from orthodontic care, the most common age to pursue orthodontic treatment is during the teenage years because of the enhanced growth potential during these formative years.

WE THINK FACES... NOT BRACES


We believe orthodontics is much more than straightening teeth. During your teen's treatment, our goal is to create facial harmony with your child's smile while improving its function.

Drs. Thurston and Eitzen are well-experienced professionals in their field and are passionate about giving the highest quality care. Their focus is always to establish proper function while maximizing dental/facial harmony, thus creating healthy, beautiful smiles to last a lifetime!

Whether it is a big dance, senior pictures, or a family event, we know teens are motivated to complete any needed orthodontic care as quickly as possible. But we can't give you a beautiful smile without your cooperation!

When we consult with the parent and teen, we present a time frame for orthodontic treatment. Please note the following factors may affect the length of time and end result of treatment:

  • Growth & development of individual patient
  • Good oral hygiene techniques and habits
  • Patient cooperation
  • Keeping regular scheduled appointments

At each appointment, we will review your child’s oral health and hygiene to see if improvement is needed. We'll also offer suggestions to speed up treatment along the way!

 
Adult Orthodontics - Adult with braces
Adult Orthodontics

It’s never too late to improve your smile! In fact today, 1 in 5 orthodontic patients are adults. Additionally, advancements such as Invisalign and Damon Clear Braces have made treatment much more comfortable, discreet, and appealing for adults.

Fortunately, higher technology braces and Invisalign can make your treatment more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing than ever - in about the same amount of time!

Dr. Thurston and Dr. Gordon Dixon are experts when it comes to adult orthodontic treatment. From a simple alignment to complex restorative procedures (such as post car accident treatment), we can recreate harmony and function for your smile.

There are many solutions available with our experts in adult orthodontics for San Diego. Consult with us to assist you in your journey to a better smile and confidence!

Whether it is preparing for a complex restorative procedure or creating a beautiful smile to make the best of your facial features and personality shine through, we will help. We can work closely with your general dentist and the finest specialists to give you an outstanding result!

Notice some of the cosmetic benefits of adult orthodontics:

  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • More attractive, younger looking appearance
  • Smile Rejuvenation (“Brace lift”)
  • Facial harmony and beauty

Notice some of the functional benefits of adult orthodontics:

  • Improved chewing and eating
  • Improved speech
  • Relief from jaw or TMJ pain
  • Improved hygiene and dental health
  • Protection from grinding or clenching
  • A more balanced bite

 
Orthodontic Emergencies - Dentist helping child with braces
Orthodontic Emergencies

It’s a fact of life: Accidents happen. Even orthodontic accidents can happen, turning into emergencies. Please see below for our list of most common orthodontic emergencies and quick and easy fixes for temporary relief.

Should you have any after- hour emergencies, please call the appropriate following number below:

Pediatric Dentistry: (858) 676-5000 (for dental emergencies)
Orthodontics: (858) 676-5010 (for orthodontic emergencies)

You will be directed how to contact the dentist on the emergency call. When directed to, please speak slowly and clearly state the following information:
  • Your name and your child’s name
  • Telephone number and whether it is a landline or cellphone
  • A brief description of the emergency
  • Repeat your telephone number

A doctor will return your call shortly.
“We are happy to offer a good emergency call system to our patients because in certain instances, there is only a window of time where we have the best chance for saving a tooth.” – Dr. Amodeo

  • Loose Bracket: The loose bracket usually remains connected to the main wire. You may use tweezers to reposition the brace or gently slide the brace over next to an adjacent brace. Wax may be placed to hold the loose brace in position. Please call our office so we may schedule an appointment to repair the broken bracket and restore comfort.
  • Poking Wire: A wire can typically be covered with wax for comfort or you may gently slide the wire around until it is not poking. An eraser end of a pencil or a Q-tip is often handy if you need to push gently on a wire so that it is not poking. Please call our office to schedule a time for us to repair your wire.
  • Loose Main Wire: If the main wire has come out of the tube on your back molar tooth, you may attempt to insert the wire with your finger, a pair of needle-nosed pliers, or tweezers. If the wire is not poking you, place a piece of wax over the area. If the wire is poking you and wax does not help, the wire can be cut with a small wire cutter or fingernail clipper close to the back of the last brace (this is a last resort). Please call our office so that we may schedule an appointment to make you comfortable and repair the broken appliance or wire.
  • Sore Teeth: If your teeth are sore after your adjustment or initial placement of braces, you may take Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) as prescribed by the doctor or as directed on the medication by age and weight. It is not uncommon to have a generalized tenderness after a wire adjustment. This soreness will decrease over 3-4 days. Cool foods (smoothies, ice cream) soften the wire and are effective at relieving discomfort as well. A bite wafer has also been included in your new patient kit. Some patients find clenching into this soft wafer an effective way to minimize any discomfort. It is unusual for patients to have unexplained tooth discomfort several weeks after your last regular visit. If your teeth suddenly get sore between visits, please call our office.
  • Impacted Food: If food becomes stuck between your teeth, use dental floss or a proxy brush to dislodge the food.
  • Missing Spacer or Separator: Use a double thickness of floss to check the area. If the double thickness floss catches between the teeth, call our office so we may help you schedule an appointment to replace the spacer. If the double thickness of floss does not catch between the teeth, it means there is adequate space and the spacer does not need to be replaced. Please do not hesitate to call if you have questions or are uncertain about the space.
  • Swallowed Appliance: First, remain calm. Using the diagram provided in your new patient kit, you may determine what piece may have been swallowed. This will usually go into the stomach, passing out of the body in a bowel movement. If you should experience difficulty in breathing, coughing, or choking, you should seek immediate medical attention. X-rays may be taken to determine the location of the swallowed piece. Please inform one of the doctors if you swallow any piece of an orthodontic appliance.
  • Broken Retainer: Remove the retainer from your mouth and bring all the pieces to our office for laboratory repair.
  • Cut Gums/Tongue/Cheek: Apply gentle pressure with a tissue or gauze to the bleeding site for several minutes. Be aware that a small amount of blood in your mouth may appear larger in your mouth because of the presence of saliva. If the bleeding does not stop, call your orthodontist, pediatric dentist, or general dentist.
 

Types of Braces

Whether your child wants colorful braces or Invisalign, Dr. Thurston and Dr. Gordon Dixon are pleased to offer a variety of solutions to achieve your treatment goals and objectives.

Orthodontist San Diego

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are the most common braces offered by orthodontists. Metal brackets are bonded to the teeth and connected by a thin metal archwire. With pressure, the metal braces can guide teeth to their correct position while the archwire is periodically adjusted and tightened.

 

Damon Clear Braces

Damon Clear Braces is a frictionless and clear brace system that moves teeth with lighter and comfortable wires. Instead of using abrupt heavy forces, Damon Braces use a light and continuous force to move the teeth, giving stunning results!

 
Orthodontist San Diego

The Invisible Alternative

These clear, thermoplastic aligners are used to straighten teeth effortlessly for both TEENS AND ADULTS! Since Invisalign is almost invisible, they are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Plus, the aligners are removable for easy brushing and eating.

 
Elephant holding toothbrush

Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment

We provide stellar results in facial harmony and aesthetics for patients of all ages (including adults). See why it's better to start sooner rather than later.

Family Holding on to each other logo - Corrective Process

Corrective Process

As your child approaches the teenage years, they undergo a transformative process. They begin to "look in the mirror," and are discovering who they are, what those around them represent, and how they fit into society.

A few weeks after beginning orthodontic treatment, our patients (children and adults) come out of their shells more - they become more outgoing, develop more confidence. Parents especially are delighted to get to know the adult their child is growing up to be.

 
Hand Shake Logo - Life-long Benefits

Life-long Benefits

  • Increased self-worth & confidence
  • Easier psychological development
  • Prevention of early tooth decay
  • Avoid TMJ pain in the future
  • Correction of oral/facial trauma
  • Better personal relationships
  • More attractive, harmonious facial features
 
Ribbon Logo - Unique Expertise

Unique Expertise

Our orthodontists in San Diego see children, teens, and adults.

The goal of our orthodontic practice is to make you and your child's orthodontic treatment something they can be excited about when looking in the mirror every day. With our skilled team, cutting-edge technology, and expert orthodontists, San Diego patients can be confident they are in the best hands with Dr. Thurston and Dr. Gordon Dixon.

 
A cute pandaa cartoon

Frequently Asked Questions

Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics) is the specialty of dentistry focused on the diagnosis and treatment of dental and associated facial irregularities. The results of orthodontic treatment can be dramatic — beautiful smiles, improved dental health, enhanced facial harmony and esthetics and an enhanced quality of life for many people of all ages.
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received two to three years of additional intensive training, study, and experience exclusively in orthodontics. Your orthodontist is able to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, improve the function of your smile, and create facial beauty.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an initial orthodontic examination by age seven. However, orthodontic treatment may benefit children, teens, and adults. The purpose of the initial assessment at age seven is to rule out missing or supernumerary (extra) teeth, skeletal disharmonies, or functional problems and review any preventive measures that are appropriate to help guide the erupting teeth into the mouth. Additionally, it will allow Dr. Thurston and Dr. Gordon Dixon to establish when the most appropriate time to address your specific treatment needs.
Yes! One in every five orthodontic patients are over the age of 21. Whether you’re considering treatment for yourself or for a child, any time is a good time to visit the orthodontist.
 
  • ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
  • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities!
  • During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar. Sugar increases the ability of plaque (bacteria) to cause cavities and gum disease.
  • Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes) or any foods that could get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, ribs, taffy, etc).
  • Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist or pediatric dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.
The amount of time spent in braces can vary depending on the individual patient as every smile responds differently to treatment. Treatment times can take anywhere between 6 and 30 months; however, most standard treatments take about 22 months.
Drs. Thurston and Eitzen use higher technology braces (Damon Braces) that allow for more efficient and comfortable tooth movement. Braces do not often hurt; however, you may feel a small amount of discomfort for a couple of days as your teeth, gum tissue, cheeks, and mouth gets used to your new braces. We will provide you with instructions and review techniques on how to effectively minimize discomfort during your orthodontic care.
Yes! In fact, it’s even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your dentist will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.
Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance.
 

If your question isn’t here, feel free to ask us! We love parents who want to learn more about their children's optimal dental health.

Ready to smile with confidence?

If you are a new patient or have been referred to our practice, please let us know. We will provide all of the information you need.

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