Orthodontics is the field of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis and correction of dental irregularities and facial asymmetries that may be associated with it. Most people associate orthodontic treatment with braces. But an orthodontic evaluation encompasses much more than just having straight teeth.
What Does a Pediatric Orthodontist Do?
Children should have an orthodontic screening by the age of 7. This is because the first permanent molars have erupted in most children by now, the presence of which is necessary for the commencement of most kinds of orthodontic treatment. Early and regular visits to the orthodontist also makes it easier to diagnose any dental irregularities in the tooth-eruption sequence of children and adolescents. Dental growth is usually complete by the age of 12. Orthodontists should intervene and assist in guiding the erupting teeth into more favorable positions to avoid future misalignments. Taking your child to see the orthodontist regularly can help –
- Gain space for the eruption of permanent teeth in children who show signs of overcrowded teeth.
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arch, which also regulates the growth of the jaw and leads to a more aesthetic appearance.
- Reduce the probability of developing impacted permanent teeth.
- Correct speech problems and habits like thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting, etc. which can further lead to the development of dental anomalies in the future.
The main objective of a pediatric orthodontist is to improve the appearance and function of a child’s teeth and enhance the overall aesthetic of their smile. A child’s early consultations with the orthodontist will mostly involve primary teeth and bite assessments. Following this, a treatment plan can be detailed out if any kind of intervention is needed.
Typically, the ideal age for starting orthodontic treatment is between the ages of 10 to 14 years. Braces are most commonly used to move and align teeth into the right positions, but an orthodontist might also use other intra-oral or extra-oral devices to complement the treatment.
In some cases, early orthodontic treatment may not be the best route to take. Some orthodontic problems are more conveniently and efficiently corrected during the teenage years when all permanent teeth have erupted. Skeletal orthodontic problems are generally supposed to be addressed at an advanced or complete growth stage.
Maintaining Oral Health with Braces
- Food particles can easily get lodged in between the brackets and wires of the braces. Parents should ensure that their children rinse their mouth after each meal to remove all the food and debris from the mouth. Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. The toothbrush may get repeatedly frayed due to damage from the brackets. It is advisable to change your child’s toothbrush every 2 or 3 months.
- Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth. Dental floss can reach areas where the toothbrush cannot. Getting a floss threader may be useful to reach areas under the archwire.
- Take your child to their pediatric dentist every six months for routine professional cleanings.
- Limit your child’s intake of sugary and sticky foods that tend to stick to the tooth surface. Oral microorganisms can turn these foods into acids that cause decay of tooth enamel.