Orthodontics for Children

Give Us a Smile

Those pearly whites need to last a long, long time so it really is crucial to manifest good dental hygiene habits in children at a very early age.  Sugar coated teeth can decay at an alarmingly fast rate – and once they’re gone, they’re gone! Like any good habit, good dental health such as regular brushing, flossing and check-ups with a dentist need to be repeated again and again until it’s instilled and becomes second nature.  Kick starting this daily ritual needn’t be an uphill challenge and thankfully there are many ways we can help support our children look after their teeth… 

At what age do children’s teeth come through?

The tooth fairy starts to get busy from when a child is about six years old until around the age of 13 when all the permanent teeth should be in place. The first permanent teeth known as molars, are found at the back of the mouth and will appear from around 6 years, whilst the baby teeth are successively replaced with ‘adult’ teeth - usually the lower front teeth are lost first, followed by the upper front teeth shortly after.

How should children's teeth be cleaned?

At any early age, children should learn to brush their teeth and to make it part of the daily hygiene routine. At first your child will need assistance, so you may find this easier to do if you stand or sit behind your child, gently cupping their chin in your hand to allow you to reach the teeth more easily.  It will help if you start and finish brushing at the same point so you know when you've done the job properly. Next, squirt a pea-sized blob of fluoride toothpaste onto the toothbrush then, start with the top set back teeth making small circular motions with the brush, moving gradually around to the other side of the mouth. Do exactly the same with the bottom set. Then repeat this action with the inside of the teeth. As your child grows older encourage them to brush his or her teeth independently, but it is important to supervise your child’s brushing until they are at least seven.

At what age should I take my child to the dentist?

Ideally, you should start taking your child to the dentist as early as  possible. That way, he or she will be used to the sounds, smells and environment and are less likely to feel intimidated at future visits.

What if my child is very nervous about going to the dentist?

It is important not to let your child feel that a visit to the dentist  is something to be worried about. Regular visits are essential in helping your child to get used to the surroundings and what goes on at a dental practice.

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a Greek word that literally means 'to straighten teeth'. It is a type of dental treatment that aims to improve the appearance, position and function of crooked or abnormally arranged teeth.

Orthodontics uses mechanical devices, such as a brace, over a certain period of time (usually 18 months to two years) to correct the position of the teeth. It is important that the teeth are healthy and the cleaning is very good before any orthodontic treatment is considered, so diet, tooth-brushing and regular visits to the dentist are important. 

When should I bring my child to see an orthodontist?

Age 6 -8 years

The permanent upper and lower incisors are erupting at this stage, as are the first permanent molars. Treatment such as cross-bites (upper teeth inside the lowers) can easily be  rectified and save  more  complicated treatment at a  later stage. Cases with small upper jaws can also be treated by expansion at this ideal stage, Many simpler or just crowded cases may not be ready to start at this age but your orthodontist can advise of possible future treatment and planning for this can be implemented.

Aged 8-10 years

At this stage your child will still be in the mixed dentition stage (ie have adult and primary teeth at the  same time).  Cross-bites can still be corrected but more severe problems  where  there  is  mismatch of the jaws can be  treated by Growth Modification with the use of Functional Appliances.  Also at this  stage your child  will have the position of the canine  or ‘eye teeth’ assessed and extraction can improve  the position of the adult canines  in specific cases.

Aged 11+

This is the stage where your child is in the adult dentition stage and will have comprehensive orthodontic treatment, if needed. This  may be  as simple  as a  removable  appliance or more  complicated requiring fixed appliances ( ‘tracks’ ) or more  recently clear aligners  are available  for the  more  simple  cases ( treatment such as ‘invisalign –teen’).

Orthodontics in the HSE

The HSE provides free orthodontic treatment only for those patients with the most severe orthodontic problems.  The criteria used to decide whether a child qualifies for treatment in the HSE is determined by nationally agreed eligibility guidelines. However, teatment waiting times vary from region to region depending on orthodontist manpower and can be very long. The most severe cases are prioritised and seen first.  www.hse.ie

Orthodontic advice provided by Dr Maghnus O’Donnell, B.A., B.Dent.Sc.,M.Sc. (Lond), M.Orth(RCSEng), M.Orth(RCSEd) Orthodontic Specialist, Orthodontic Society of Irleand.

To find a private orthodontic specialist near you, contact the Orthodontic Society of Ireland on 087 771 1909  or check www.orthodontics.ie


Established in 1993 by Dr. Maghnus O’Donnell, O'Donnell Orthodontics provides affordable, cutting-edge, specialist orthodontic treatment for children, teenagers and adults.

They aim to provide adults, teenagers and children with specialist orthodontic treatment in a caring, friendly and comfortable environment. Each patient is assessed as an individual and receives a treatment plan that is tailored to their unique requirements.

Orthodontic practices continue to evolve as new theories are tested and technologies released. Dr O’Donnell continually updates his skills so that he remains at the forefront of specialist orthodontic care in Ireland.

Patients may be referred by their general dentist or they may self-refer to O’Donnell Orthodontics, which holds clinics at The Northbrook Clinic in Ranelagh; Cannon Row Dental Surgery in Navan; and Pembroke Dental Centre in Carlow. For more information and contact details visit www.odonnellorthodontics.ie


Pearls Dental Maynooth is a full-coverage dental clinic.  They provide treatment in: Family Dentistry, Orthodontics, Cosmetic Dentistry, Gum Health, Wisdom Tooth Extraction, Dentures & Dental Implants. All of their Dentists, Orthodontists and Oral Surgeons have a general dental degree just like your family dentist. In addition to this, specialists have an extra 2-3 years of specialist dental training, which allows them to provide you with the highest level of care in fields such as Orthodontics, Implant Dentistry, Periodontology, Oral Surgery and Aesthetic Dentistry.

Dr. Ronan Perry of Pearls Dental Clinic Maynooth is a registered specialist and an active member of the Orthodontic Society of Ireland.

Contact Pearls Dental Clinic, Maynooth on 01 5054276 www.pearls.ie


Is your Child on a HSE waiting list for Orthodontic treatment? Many children can be on the waiting list for years before they can access publicly funded Orthodontic treatment. Did you know you could be entitled to reimbursement if you have the treatment carried out privately at Zen Orthodontics in Newry?

The Cross Border Directive (CBD) allows for EU residents to access health services in EU member states other than their own. What this means is that if you or your children have been assessed as being entitled to public health services here in Ireland (including Orthodontics Services), you may opt to access those services in another EU/EEA member state, which includes Northern Ireland and the treatment could be done a lot earlier.  The costs must be born by the individual and he/she then seeks reimbursement for the cost of the healthcare upon return to Ireland.  In order to apply, you need the appropriate referral letter and there is an application process to go through with the HSE.  

Zen Orthodontics is a specialist orthodontic practice offering brace treatment for teenagers and adults. They open late on Thursdays and on Saturday mornings and are easily accessed from the M1 motorway only an hour from the M50, which makes it very convenient for patients from Leinster. They also offer flexible payment plans. For more information on how you can access the HSE Scheme or for private appointments, contact Zen Orthodontics on 04830 252110 or check www.zenbraces.co.uk. For more information on the Cross Border Directive contact the HSE on Tel: 056 778 4546 or via email crossborderdirective@hse.ie.