A healthy mouth is important in overall health but oral care is often taken for granted. Clean, strong teeth and gums bring beautiful smiles. Parents should teach their children the importance of dental care through regular visits to the dentist and good habits. Experts say this can start as soon as a baby grows the first tooth. By age 7, the child can already see an orthodontist to identify problems and correct them early.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of teeth misalignment and malocclusion or bad bites. Problems such as under or overbite, crooked teeth, and overcrowded teeth are the specialization of an orthodontist. Braces and other appliances are the common treatments they offer.
Dental Visit as Early as Age 7
By age 7, a child typically has lost all baby teeth. An orthodontist can determine potential problems such as bad bite or misaligned teeth. Early treatment is better in order to correct problems easier and avoid more serious complications that can lead to surgery. Treatment can start by age 9. An orthodontist can tell the best time for treatment. He can guide proper growth of the jaw or a permanent tooth’s position, reduce trauma on protruding front teeth and correct bad habits such as thumb sucking.
Parents should guard against early signs of orthodontic issues. These include early or late loss of milk teeth, difficulty biting or chewing, breathing mostly through the mouth, thumb sucking, teeth grinding and more. You should also watch for excessive spacing, open bite, crowding teeth, deep bite, crossbite of the front and back teeth, underbite, protrusion and abnormal tooth eruption.
Early Treatment is Better
Orthodontic visits can start as soon as baby teeth are gone and replaced by permanent ones. However, there are conditions that are easier to correct when identified earlier. These include crossbite wherein the upper front teeth close inside the lower front teeth. To fix this, an orthodontist can use a palatal expander to slowly widen the upper jaw. This is more effective when the jaw has not yet fully developed. If treated later, the procedure could be more complicated. It may even lead to oral surgery. Bad habits such as thumb sucking can change growth patterns of the jaw, leading to misalignment of teeth. Treatments are available to fix this behaviour.
Children can benefit from visiting an orthodontist early especially if there are signs of problems. A dentist will know when treatment should be done after observing growth patterns. Early detection can make correction easier. You might think that your child is too young for braces, but it is never too early for orthodontic consultations. You can go directly to a kid-friendly orthodontist, the best medical practitioner to perform evaluations and corrections. He has the training, experience and orthodontic supplies to detect and fix problems effectively.