When most people think of orthodontics they think of preteens and teens in full metal braces. But, while this scenario may be common, orthodontic treatment types vary and are literally for everyone. Often while a child is in treatment the parent sees how easy and convenient orthodontics can be and enters into treatment as well.
An orthodontic specialist, also referred to as an orthodontist, may use many different types of appliances to treat and improve the appearance of one’s teeth depending on the diagnosis and treatment goals. There are the traditional metal braces, but there is also a clear alternative for those who want to be a little more discrete. In addition, virtual technology has allowed us to use a clear aligner system to straighten teeth. Called Invisalign, this newer system allows the orthodontist to treat the patient virtually “wireless.”
We are fortunate to live in a city where there is no shortage of dental health care professionals. Orthodontists differ from other dental professionals in that we train for two to three additional years beyond dental school to specialize in the practice of orthodontics only. In the state of Kentucky we are allowed to only practice as orthodontists.
Most orthodontists in the United States belong to The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), the national governing body that establishes the guidelines for patient care. The association recommends that all kids have a consultation by an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7.
There are many reasons to have this consultation before the pre-teen years. The orthodontist can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. And while your child’s teeth may appear straight, there could be a problem that an orthodontist can detect. Early treatment may also prevent more serious problems from developing and may make future treatment less complicated.
On the other hand, the checkup may reveal that your child’s bite is fine. Or, the orthodontist may identify a developing problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development; then, if indicated, begin treatment at the appropriate time for the child.
Early treatment may give your orthodontist a chance to:
• Guide jaw growth
• Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
• Correct harmful oral habits
• Improve appearance
• Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
Through an early orthodontic evaluation, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile. But, no matter what your age – from 5 to 95 – any time is the right time for a healthy, beautiful smile.
Michelle Brammer, DMD, practices with American Family Orthodontics, 1815 Bardstown Road (near Speed Avenue in the Dental Works Building). For a free consultation, call (502) 239-9070. For more information, visit www.afobraces.com.