Since it is better to prevent certain dental diseases than it is to treat them, it is recommended that children visit an orthodontist between the ages of six and 12 in order to have preventative measures taken. Moreover, the earlier a patient becomes aware of dental problems, the quicker and easier it is to take steps to protect his or her teeth.
Some of the more common reasons that people are referred to someone who specializes in orthodontics include:
- Abnormal bite – If you have a normal bite, then your upper teeth slightly overlap your lower teeth. The space between the space between the two should be between one and two millimeters. If it is a lot more, then there is something wrong with your bite and it should be corrected. An abnormal bite can affect the way a person chews and speaks. There are also a whole host of other problems it can lead to including tooth decay, gum disease, and even tooth loss because overlapping teeth can be difficult to clean.
- Uneven spacing – This means that your teeth are either spaced too far apart or are crowded too close together. While this may just seem like it is an aesthetics issue, these problems can make it a lot harder to properly floss the teeth involved and keep up with a general dental hygiene routine.
- Bad habits – The most popular of which is thumb sucking which can cause teeth to become misaligned. This can not only affect the child cosmetically, but may also affect their ability to eat. Other issues include tongue thrusting and teeth grinding. Tongue thrusting can cause a child to have a speech impediment or lisp. Grinding one’s teeth can wear them down.
- Self- esteem – It is important that everyone feels good about their appearance. If you hide your smile because you are not happy with how it looks, an orthodontist can help you to improve it by addressing whatever dental problems or issues you seem to have. People who have undergone orthodontic treatment are then able to smile with complete confidence because they are proud of how their smiles look.
- Preventative measures – If many of the problems listed above are not dealt with in a timely manner, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, as well as people losing their teeth later on in life. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child see an orthodontist at age seven so that any possible orthodontic problems can be properly identified.
The importance of proper orthodontic care cannot be overstated. While all orthodontists are dentists, not all dentists have received the training needed to be an orthodontist. In order to become an orthodontist, in addition to completing four years of dental school, he or she must then carry out two to three years of specialized study in orthodontics. These specialists use braces, trays, which are also known as aligners and other appliances to help make teeth move into their proper positions. They also have their patients use retainers in order to hold teeth in place once treatment is complete.