For Kids

Orthodontics For Kids

At Playa Vista Orthodontics, we love helping kids gain the confidence that comes with a healthy, good looking smile. As a mother, Dr. Courtney is deeply passionate about providing a close, personal relationship with each and every kid who comes into her practice. She loves watching them grow and seeing their gratitude develop with each completed treatment, building that trust and appreciation over time.

We firmly believe in early interceptive treatment and love educating the families that come into our practice on what that looks like. Some indicators are thumb or finger sucking habits, crowded or crooked teeth, insufficient or excessive jaw growth, crossbites, underbites, and baby teeth that have been ground down.

Timing is everything, and we’ve got your child’s best interest at heart, so we will monitor your kiddo until it’s the best time to start – keeping you updated along the way.

Understanding the ideal time to start your child’s treatment

There is a broad age range of when it is a good time to start orthodontic treatment in children, some children are much more dentally advanced then others. For example: a 7 year old might have the same dentition as a 10 year old, so timely screenings can increase the chances for a more complete outcome and incredible smile. By age 6 or 7, the first adult molars can start to erupt, establishing the back bite. These are called, ‘6-year-old molars’. During this time Dr. Courtney can evaluate front-to-back and side-to-side tooth relationships. The presence of erupting incisors can indicate possible overbite, open bite, crowding or gummy smiles.

Orthodontic treatment can be a very important part of your child’s oral health care. Ideally, the upper and lower teeth should line up like a zipper when in the biting position. Teeth that work together make it possible to bite, chew and clean properly, and contributes to clear speech. Teeth that function well also tend to have a pleasing appearance. The beautiful smile that results from orthodontic treatment is the outward sign of good oral health, and sets the stage for overall well-being.

In a lot of cases, your child may not need interceptive orthodontic treatment at this age and stage in life. The American Association for Orthodontists still recommends coming in for a screening to rule it out. If that is the case, we will simply monitor their growth until your child is ready. We encourage this screening, as some signs of necessary orthodontic treatment can only be determined by an x-ray showing the size and/or position of unerupted teeth to come.

Phased Treatment

Phase One

If addressed at the right age and stage in a child’s dentition, Phase One treatment, if necessary, is initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 11. The primary objective is to correct significant problems, such as jaw growth and width, or to prevent such problems from becoming more severe. These problems are best addressed in a growing child so that their growth trajectory can be influenced by orthodontic appliances before bones solidify as they age, i.e., the prevention of extracting permanent teeth to make room for the teeth to fit, or correcting an underbite to avoid jaw surgery as an adult. This can, in turn, improve self-esteem and self-image. In most cases, a Phase Two is recommended to complete the treatment, since new teeth have erupted that haven’t been treated, as well as additional jaw growth. There is typically a 1-4 year gap between Phase One and Phase Two, giving your child a nice break between treatments, making it easier on the mouth. Expanders, Facemasks, Headgear, partial braces or Invisalign First are all common Phase One appliances.

Phase Two

Phase One typically takes about 12-18 months to complete, followed by Hawley retainers on the arch that was treated, worn at night to hold the progress we’ve made. Phase Two would consist of either braces or Invisalign Teen, and in some cases, additional appliances can be used to complete bite correction, such as a Carriere Motion appliance, or Forsus. All orthodontic appliances still require a good amount of effort from the patient to ensure the treatment is successful. All appliances need to be kept extremely clean, rubber bands need to be worn in some cases, Rapid Palatal Expanders need to be turned on a regular basis, and aligners need to be worn 20-22 hours a day to ensure premium results.

Common problems we treat

Habit forming problems

An Open Bite is when the upper and lower teeth do not touch when the mouth is closed. Habits such as thumb or finger sucking can often lead to an open bite. Once the open bite exists, the tongue thrust habit develops and perpetuates the issue. Dr. Courtney can address this issue with a habit appliance and preferably Invisalign, but braces work well too.

Flared teeth

Flared out upper teeth can be a result of abnormal jaw growth. The excess space between the top and bottom teeth are caused by a smaller lower jaw. Exposed upper teeth can be more susceptible to trauma, which can result in a fractured tooth that requires costly repairs. This issue can be easily resolved in a Phase One treatment, using an expander and headgear appliance.


A crossbite is when some of the upper teeth don’t fit behind the lower teeth, sometimes causing the lower jaw to shift when biting down. This condition can also cause recession or grinding down teeth. Orthodontic treatment can address this issue, resulting in a normal bite, where all upper teeth cover the lower teeth.


Jaws that develop narrow or small and have large size teeth experience issues with crowded, crooked teeth. This can lead to improper biting, and can also be difficult to clean in some areas. erupting teeth sometimes get off track as they don’t have room to grow in the proper place.


Jessica Perez
Jessica Perez
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The staff and orthodontist were extremely helpful and friendly. They answered all my questions and made me feel comfortable with my decision to start treatment for my daughter. The best part is that this office does Phase I treatment with Invisalign as an option vs traditional braces. Can't wait to get my daughter started.
Salli McDonald
Salli McDonald
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Very friendly staff, professional, caring and adhere to Covid-19 health and safety protocols. My daughter and I have beautiful teeth. My youngest daughter will be next. Thank-you for the great experience Dr. Ray!
Nina Forbess
Nina Forbess
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Fantastic front staff, incredible attention from Dr. Ray, just an all around great place to go for orthodontic needs. Both our kids are going here and we couldn't be happier. We've been thrilled with the results!
Heidi Behforouz
Heidi Behforouz
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Dr. Ray is friendly, kind and treats kids with respect. She encourages them to participate in the decision making process and engenders trust and comfort. Wonderful staff as well! Responsive and professional.
Kim Joiner
Kim Joiner
This is one of the best dental/Orthodontist offices in LA. They are professional, courteous, and clean atmosphere welcomOmg to everyone. They also do a fantastic job with kids and braces I highly recommend them.
We had Dr. Ray and staff take care of both of our kids teeth and the whole experience was phenomenal for our two very different kids. Our older daughter was...

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Brackets and attachments (with Invisalign) are known to come off when eating really crunchy or chewy foods, such as pizza crust, hard chips, or sticky candy. With either treatment, you will probably experience some soreness once the teeth start to shift, so eating softer foods will also feel better.

After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days since the teeth are starting to shift. In these situations, Tylenol can ease the discomfort. Eventually patients don’t feel much soreness at all! Discomfort from braces can also be caused by poor oral hygiene, causing inflammation to the gums, making them irritated. If we see signs of poor oral care at visits, we will reiterate the importance of good oral hygiene and go over brushing and flossing instructions once more. Lastly, the actual brackets and attachments will take some time to get used to, and in the beginning, may cause irritation to the lips from rubbing.

Of course! That is something most patients look forward to. We offer many color options and you can even mix and match and get creative.

We will do our best to accommodate your after school scheduler. We offer evening appointments and some Saturdays, and to ensure we have enough room to see all of our after school patients, we offer morning discounts to our adult patients. We understand the importance of not missing school and value your commitment to your schedule. We ask that in return, you do your best to keep your appointments and also value our schedule. Rescheduling at that last minute could result in later appointment dates, and when done often enough, can add time to your treatment length. Certain appointments like ‘debands’ or removing your braces or attachments are done in the morning only.

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