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Why Your Child Should See An Orthodontist By Age 7

July 20th, 2019

Young girl with braces

It’s not uncommon for people to associate orthodontics with teens in traditional braces. This is a pretty persistent stereotype, even though patients of all ages can benefit from orthodontic treatment, including children. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have their first orthodontic evaluation by around the age of 7! Because most kids this age still have some baby teeth left, as well as a developing mouth, you may wonder why we encourage a visit to the orthodontist so early. It’s all part of the preventative care approach we take to oral health here at Dream Orthodontics! 

When you schedule an appointment for your young child with Dr. Morra, it will give her the chance to examine their mouth for any existing or potential orthodontic issues before they have the chance to become more serious. This helps to reduce the risk of those problems having a negative impact on your child’s future permanent teeth and bite.

We treat a number of younger patients in our practice, so we’ve had the opportunity to observe firsthand how starting treatment at the right time can make a positive difference to a child’s overall oral health. If you have a child ready for their first orthodontic appointment, we’d love to schedule a Free consultation for them so we can take a look at how their mouth is developing! To learn more about some of the things our team will be checking for during this initial evaluation, keep reading below.

Tooth loss and eruption

It’s tempting to think that baby teeth don’t really matter since they eventually fall out anyway, but these primary teeth are actually placeholders for our permanent teeth. That means where they’re located and when they are lost matters more than you might think. They also tend to fall out in a fairly specific order, so any significant deviation from that pattern may signify a developmental issue that could need further attention from Dr. Morra.

At this stage in their dental development, most children will have at least four permanent molars and up to four permanent incisors. Any more or less than this could indicate a problem with missing, crowding, or extra teeth. When this occurs, we may choose to remove a primary tooth early. In others, simply maintaining a space where a tooth has been lost prematurely may be sufficient to keep the neighboring teeth from crowding it.

Crowding and spacing

Spacing issues can show up when a tooth is lost prematurely, where one has never developed, or with teeth that are too small or spaced too far apart. If crowding is the problem, it can often be corrected by expanding the arches or removing certain teeth. An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Morra will generally be able to tell relatively early in a child’s life if they’re experiencing problems with excessive crowding or spacing of their teeth, or if these seem like problems that may develop later on in life.

Misalignment

Crooked teeth have more than just a cosmetic impact. They are also more difficult to clean effectively, and more susceptible to uneven damage and wear. If left untreated, misalignment can compromise the surrounding gum tissue, affecting the shape and position of it. While we’re able to align teeth at almost any age, getting a head start on this can help prevent some of that damage in children, giving them a great shot at developing and maintaining a healthy smile throughout their lives.

Overbite (protrusive front teeth)

Front teeth that protrude can be a cosmetic concern, but they may also cause pain in the jaw, and can even affect normal speech patterns, too. Although we will sometimes need to wait until your child’s mouth has finished growing before permanently correcting an overbite, there are still a number of things we can do in the meantime to help reduce the risk of pain and traumatic injury.

Underbite

Most underbites we see are caused by problems with either the teeth or the jaw. The most difficult scenario involves the lower jaw growing too far forward. In a difficult case like this, we will typically need to wait until the patient has finished growing to begin their treatment. This is usually somewhere in their mid- to late-teens. However, early treatment still has an important role to play here by helping patients avoid any bite-shifting or damage to the front teeth. In addition, underbite patients who receive early treatment between the ages of 7-10 or so are less likely to need jaw surgery when they get older.

Posterior Crossbite

A posterior crossbite can lead to crowding, and may also cause the jaw to shift from one side to the other. Expanding the upper jaw in earlier childhood may allow us to reduce crowding and create space for the front teeth to come through uninterrupted. Expansion can also eliminate any shifting that may be present due to a constricted upper jaw.

Anterior Open Bites and Deep Bites

When a child has a deep bite, the top teeth can completely cover the bottom ones when biting, possibly indicating a small lower jaw. In an open bite, the overall bite doesn’t overlap enough. This is often caused by poor oral habits, including extended finger or thumb sucking. If this is a problem with your child, we’re happy to work with you to eliminate any destructive habits early on, allowing their oral development to continue normally.

Young boys smiling with braces

Give your child the gift of a healthy smile with an early evaluation from Dream Orthodontics

When you know a little more about the potential issues younger patients can face, it’s easy to see why early orthodontic evaluations are an important part of maintaining your child’s oral health! Timing the key factor, since a child’s jaw bones continue to harden as they get older, and will eventually stop growing. Any orthodontic procedures needed after that point will often take more time and be more invasive, such as tooth extractions or oral surgery.

Having your young child examined by an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Morra can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult. It can even make comprehensive orthodontic treatment faster and more efficient! If you have a child around 7 years of age who’s ready for their first orthodontic appointment, get in touch with us today to schedule a FREE exam. This is the perfect time to take the first step towards your child’s best smile!

myths and misconceptions about orthodontics

May 8th, 2019

While everyone understands that a dentist takes care of teeth, not everyone is aware of what an orthodontist does. This confusion sometimes leads to misunderstandings about what our practice does for our patients and how exactly we can help them. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of the myths and misconceptions about orthodontics.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about the orthodontist is that we’re just like your family dentist. The truth is, we are actually very different. Orthodontists go to school for additional years to specialize in the movement of teeth!

While it’s true that both orthodontists and dentists care about helping you enjoy a lifetime of good dental and oral health, we go about achieving this goal in different ways. For instance, if you need to have a cavity filled, you won’t make an appointment to see us. Dentists are the health professionals to see if you’re concerned about a cavity or need a filling. Actually for any sort of restorative procedure, including crowns, bridges or veneers, a dentist is the correct professional to see. A dentist can also treat gum disease, tooth decay, toothaches, and other common oral health problems.

People see an orthodontist for very particular services. Most of the patients we see on a daily basis are here because they have braces, or they need to be fitted with braces or another form of tooth-straightening device. In other words, they consult an orthodontist when they are concerned about the alignment of their teeth. Correcting misaligned teeth not only results in the important esthetic benefit for a beautiful smile, but as importantly allows your teeth and gums to remain healthy as your bite is properly balanced, and you can more easily care for your smile. As a child grows up, his or her teeth may grow in crooked or have gaps between teeth. This can happen for a number of reasons, so it’s important for an orthodontist to take a look at a child’s teeth at about seven years of age. At that age, it’s possible to detect any problems that have not become too advanced and more easily treat those. Your family dentist may also refer your child to an orthodontist once the adult teeth have fully grown in.

Another common misconception about orthodontists is that we only treat children. It’s true that when you visit an orthodontic clinic you’re apt to see a lot of young kids, but you’ll also see teenagers, college students, and adults. Because crooked teeth can be caused by a number of different factors, it’s entirely possible for someone to require or proceed with orthodontic treatment at any age.

If you want to know more about the practice of orthodontics or what Dr. Amani Morra can do for you, we invite you to simply ask us.

It’s best to get answers to your specific questions directly from the person who will be treating you. While you’re sure to find Internet resources helpful, there really is no substitute for the personal attention you’ll get during your appointment at our practice.

Proper Tooth Brushing Techniques

April 18th, 2019

You are probably aware that brushing your teeth is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your oral health.

But have you ever considered whether you’re brushing your teeth correctly?

Here are some tips to make your brushing routine as effective and safe as possible:

 

  • Aim to brush for two minutes (that’s 120 seconds), twice a day, with a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush. As an alternative, you can use a powered toothbrush for increased cleaning efficacy.

 

  • Brush the outside surfaces of your teeth using small, gentle, circular motions while positioning the head of the toothbrush at a 45° angle to the gum line. Concentrate on small areas at a time until you’ve cleaned your entire mouth.

 

  • Brush the inside surfaces of your teeth using the same motion, and chewing surfaces using short, gentle, back-and-forth motions.

 

  • Gently brush your tongue (or use a tongue scraper). This will remove bacteria and dead cells from your tongue and lead to fresher breath.

 

  • Pay particular attention to the gum line, hard-to-reach areas in the back of the mouth, around dental and orthodontic appliances, and near fillings, crowns, or any other restorative work.

 

  • Choosing a toothpaste depends on your individual needs and preferences. Many different types are available for oral health issues such as tartar, gingivitis, or sensitive teeth. But proper brushing technique is the most important tactic for removing tartar from your teeth.

 

  • We recommend that you replace your toothbrush every three months or when the bristles begin to wear, whichever comes first. It’s also advisable to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick, since the bristles of the toothbrush can trap bacteria and allow them to proliferate.

Along with flossing, proper brushing will keep your mouth healthy and beautiful.

Please let anyone in our office know if you have questions about your brushing and/or flossing routine.

 

Common Orthodontic Misconceptions

January 15th, 2019

When you think of a person wearing braces, the first image that likely pops into your head is an awkward middle-school child with a mouth full of metal brackets and rubber bands...The vast majority of our patients don’t fit that stereotype, however.

We have patients of all ages who take advantage of a broad variety of orthodontic treatments. There are many misconceptions about orthodontics, so we’d like to put a few of them to rest.

  1. Orthodontic treatment is just for kids - Wrong!
    Although teenagers often visit our office to get braces, adults represent a growing proportion of our orthodontic patients. Whether you’re eight or 80, a no cost consultation with Dr. Morra can identify problems with your teeth, jaws, or bite that can be corrected by orthodontics.
  2. Traditional metal braces are my only option - Wrong!
    Advances in orthodontic technology have come up with improved braces and other orthodontic appliances that are much less noticeable than the braces of yesteryear. Aesthetic orthodontic treatments, such as clear aligners, clear braces and more are available to you.
  3. Orthodontic treatment is only helpful for crooked teeth - Wrong!
    Sure, a crooked smile is a common reason for patients to seek orthodontic care. But orthodontic interventions can help with a range of dental health problems. From missing teeth to overbites and jaw misalignment, we can help with many problems related to your teeth, gums, and jaws. Straight teeth are also easier to keep clean, so there’s less risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
  4. Orthodontic treatment is too expensive - Wrong again!
    As with any medical procedure, orthodontics can be pricey. However, our team works with patients to identify payment plans, insurance coverage, and affordable down payments that make it easy to get started.

Don’t let preconceived ideas about braces deter you from getting the orthodontic care you need!

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