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What Every Mom Should Know About Orthodontics

by Dr. Angela Ross

Is your son or daughter still sucking his or her thumb at age 3, 4 or even 5? Studies have shown that chronic thumb sucking can alter the development of a child's teeth and jaws and parents should aim to stop this habit by age two. What can parents do? Some orthodontic offices have motivational programs where kids keep charts and win prizes if they can achieve their goal. Habits like thumb sucking, nail biting, and tongue thrusting can lead to crooked teeth. Also, crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. A bad bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing or speaking, and excess strain on supporting bone and gum tissue. Without treatment, many problems become worse and can require additional dental care later in life.

Some parents say they never needed braces and they ask why their child does. Most orthodontic problems are inherited. Your son or daughter may get the size of his or her teeth from one side of the family and the size of his or her jaws from the other side, and they often times do not match up. Approximately 75% of all kids need some form of orthodontic correction. Examples of these genetic problems are crowding, spacing, protrusion, extra or missing teeth and some jaw growth problems.

When is the best time to bring your child to an orthodontic specialist? The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that your child get an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7. By this age, orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. That's important because some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they're found early. Most orthodontic patients begin active treatment between ages 9 and 14. Why take your child to a specialist? An orthodontist has 2 or 3 years of additional training past general dentists. A small percentage of orthodontic specialists are Diplomates, or Board Certified Orthodontists. This means that he or she has gone a step beyond and taken an arduous set of exams to achieve this status.

You might even wonder if you can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic treatment can be successful at almost any age. In fact, about one in every five orthodontic patients today is over age 18. Thanks to today's smaller, less visible, more comfortable braces, and the new INVISALIGN braces, adults are finding treatment more appealing.

INVISALIGN is a series of clear, removable aligners that gradually moves your teeth just like regular braces. Children age 12 and up are candidates for INVISALIGN and the beauty is, the clear aligners can be removed for eating and brushing. There are no restrictions on what you can eat and cleaning and flossing is simple. A new product called INVISALIGN TEEN is designed for children that still have adult teeth erupting, and has become extremely popular.

Your smile is your greeting to the world. It's also a window to your dental health. Not everyone is born with beautiful teeth. Crooked teeth or spaces between teeth may be a source of embarrassment or self-consciousness. Improperly aligned teeth and jaws - called a "malocclusion" - also can lead to other, sometimes painful, dental disorders. The good news is that orthodontic treatment can correct these problems...and help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile at any age that will last a lifetime!

Dr. Angela Ross
Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics
Family Orthodontics, P.A.

Categories: Children's Health, Health & Wellness,

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