Has your child’s dentist recommended they begin seeing an orthodontist? We know parents have various questions regarding their child’s dental and orthodontic treatment, and we’ve got answers! We sat down with our very own orthodontist, Dr. Skylar, to ask him four of the most common orthodontic-related questions that parents have. Check it out!
When Should My Child Begin Seeing an Orthodontist?
Dr. Skylar recommends that every child begin seeing an orthodontist when they start to lose their baby teeth and their permanent teeth start to erupt. Typically, this is around the age of 7. This is an ideal time to begin taking x-rays and assess a child, as it is much easier to solve problems before they progress. If your child is prone to orthodontic-related issues, they will likely be present at this time, and problems like this are much easier to solve when they are subtle and mild as opposed to moderate or severe.
Do I Need a Referral to See the Orthodontist?
No! You never need a referral to see one of the orthodontists at PDAO. Dr. Skylar suggests calling one of the PDAO offices to set up a complimentary exam. PDAO does not charge for any orthodontic-related consultations and exams until the braces process begins. The initial exam typically takes around an hour and includes x-rays, pictures, and addressing any problem our orthodontists encounter.
What Are Orthodontists Looking For During a Consultation?
Typically, your orthodontist is looking for several possible problems. Here are a handful of the most common issues your orthodontist will look for:
- Crossbites – Crossbites occur when the upper teeth are located behind the lower teeth, which is the opposite of what you want. It can happen in the front or back teeth and is quite important to address early.
- Dental Protrusion – Dental protrusion is when an individual’s lips don’t cover their teeth because they are flared out slightly. Biologically, lips are meant to be little airbags that protect the teeth, but if they can’t fit around the teeth, they cannot operate properly as airbags. This can lead to a higher chance of a traumatic event, such as a chipped or knocked-out tooth.
- Bad Habits – The two most prominent habits your orthodontist is looking for are thumb sucking and pushing the tongue forward when swallowing. These habits can create significant issues down the road for your child’s smile.
- Crowding/Spacing – To a certain extent, your orthodontist can address crowding and spacing issues while your child is still growing, but some solutions require waiting until further down the road. Either way, it is beneficial to get an eye on these issues at a young age.
- Bite Concerns – Like crowding and spacing issues, many bite concerns are not addressed until your child is a bit older—around the age of 12—but it might be something your orthodontist wants to treat when your child is younger if the concerns are severe enough.
My Child Isn’t Ready for Braces Yet. Why Are They Seeing an Orthodontist Every Six Months?
Dr. Skylar equates your child’s smile to the iceberg theory—90% of the iceberg is under the surface, and your child’s smile is no different. As your child grows and develops, 90% of their adult teeth are below the surface. While the teeth are trying to come in straight, many erupt sideways, but your orthodontist would have no way of knowing about and addressing the issue without an x-ray.
Similarly, when adult teeth erupt, they have no way of knowing if they’re erupting into a baby tooth or a permanent tooth, which can cause severe problems for your child’s smile. If your orthodontist can see this before it becomes an issue, they can perform preventative care that will redirect the path of the permanent tooth.
Because all of PDAO’s orthodontic services are complimentary before starting the braces process, Dr. Skylar prefers to take an x-ray every six months to follow the path of the teeth. Regularly scheduled x-rays and consultations allow your orthodontist to predict how permanent teeth will come in and how that will affect the rest of your child’s smile.