Ask the experts: Orthodontics
Dental health starts early, and orthodontic treatment can correct issues before they become serious. Parenting NH reached out to Agata A. Bartels DMD, MS, Pediatric Orthodontist at Children’s Dental Center Of New Hampshire and Orthodontics Too to learn why an early visit to the orthodontist is important, and how your children will benefit in the long run.
What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?
Bartels: “General Dentists are concerned with overall health of the teeth and gums. Orthodontists are dentists with additional specialized training. Both orthodontists and general dentists have to complete four years of dental school but orthodontists complete an additional 2-3 years of training to become specialized in moving teeth.”
At what age should my child have an orthodontics appointment, and why is it important?
Bartels: “According to the American Association of Orthodontists children should first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven. Orthodontists can identify even the slightest problems with jaw growth and erupting teeth that may not be obvious to the parent. This check up may reveal that your child’s tooth and jaw development is totally normal. Sometimes a developing problem may be recognized and the orthodontist will recommend a periodic evaluation every 6-12 months to monitor the growth and development of your child and determine the optimal time to start orthodontic treatment. In some cases, a problem that could benefit from early treatment may be identified.”
How can you tell if your child may need early treatment?
Bartels: “Some problems that may indicate that your child will need early treatment include:
- Crowded teeth around age seven or eight
- Mouth breathing
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Thumb or finger sucking or any other habits after age five
- Shifting of the jaw when your child opens or closes his or her mouth (crossbites)
- Protruding front teeth
- Teeth that don’t come together in a normal manner (an underbite)
- Early or late loss of baby teeth – your child will typically start losing their baby teeth at around age five and should have all permanent teeth at about age thirteen”
What can I expect at the initial visit?
Bartels: “The goal of the first visit is to determine if orthodontic treatment is needed and when to start. You should expect to be at the initial visit for about one hour. A staff member will take photos of your child’s mouth and teeth and a panoramic x-ray. The orthodontist will then do a thorough clinical examination, review your child’s medical and dental history, and go over the photos and x-rays taken. After the exam, the orthodontist and staff will discuss various treatment options, treatment time and cost of treatment.”