Being a mom means keeping a thousand plates spinning while wearing a hundred different hats. Cook, maid, chauffeur, party planner, nurse, therapist, teacher… the list goes on and on. One hat you shouldn’t have to wear is that of an orthodontist. Orthodontists receive 2 to 3 years of additional training after dental school to become highly-trained specialists in tooth movement, facial growth, and dental development. When it comes to your child’s teeth and oral health, you want expert advice and information, so I decided to put together a guide to the Top 5 Things Moms Need To Know About Orthodontics.
1. Orthodontics is about more than just straight teeth.
Orthodontics deals with the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of malpositioned teeth and jaws. It’s natural to think that straight teeth would automatically equal a healthy smile, but there are plenty of potential dental issues that can lurk just beneath the surface. Orthodontists are trained to look at more than just the smile. We examine the movement and growth of the jaw, which can create underbites and overbites. We also observe the teeth as they develop, checking for any impacted, missing, or overcrowded teeth that may otherwise go unnoticed.
2. Your child should have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7.
It might seem strange to suggest kids see an orthodontist this early, but we recommend it, along with the American Association of Orthodontists. Having an orthodontic exam at age 7 means we can pick up on potential issues early enough to prevent any negative impact on your child’s permanent teeth and bite. The majority of children we see at this age won’t need treatment, but still benefit from us monitoring them for any developing problems.
3. Pick an orthodontic office you’re comfortable with.
On average, patients will need to be seen every 6-8 weeks for the duration of their treatment, so it’s essential you find an office you feel comfortable with since you’ll be spending quite a bit of time there! Picking a practice that’s conveniently located is another consideration that can really cut down on scheduling stresses. We took this into account when building our new Collierville office, located near the popular Poplar and Houston Levee intersection. We’re also close to several schools in the area, making daytime and after-school appointments a breeze.
4. Multiple options are now available.
Gone are the days of awkward, “train track” braces and clunky headgear, but the stigma lives on to this day. Fortunately, modern orthodontics has come a long way towards making traditional metal braces smaller, subtler, and more comfortable than ever before. Still not convinced? There are a number of alternative, aesthetic orthodontic treatments to choose from like clear ceramic braces and the Invisalign clear aligner system. Regardless of age and aesthetic preferences, we have an option that will fit your needs.
5. Treatment times will vary.
Patients always want to know exactly how long they’ll be in braces or Invisalign, but unfortunately, this is a question with no easy answer. The length of time your child will need to wear braces will vary based on their specific circumstances, depending on things like the severity of the problem, the health of their teeth, gums, and supporting bone, and how compliant they are with elastics, to name a few. Patient response to treatment also differs from case to case. However, on average, braces tend to be worn for roughly one to 2.5 years.
Dr. Kyle Fagala is an orthodontist at Saddle Creek Orthodontics in Collierville; 901.726.3878; SaddleCreekOrtho.com