A perfect smile can open doors, conquer hearts and change lives. But in order to achieve that Hollywood smile, proper teeth care and early age monitoring of teeth’s evolution are essential. If the cleaning routine can be done at home, a good teeth alignment can only be achieved with the help of a dental professional. Dentists are the first professionals to take a look at children’s teeth in order to look for cavities, tantrum and other similar problems, while pediatric orthodontists look for wrongly positioned teeth, problematic jaw growth or abnormal teeth development. The orthodontists play an important role in children’s facial look and in their teeth’s health, so further knowledge about these dental professionals is necessary.
Competences and education of a pediatric orthodontist
Pediatric orthodontists are dental professionals specialized in monitoring the eruption of permanent teeth and treating teeth problems which appear in this period. They also treat bad aligned teeth using specific procedures which include braces and retainers. They are specially trained to work with children and use tools, anesthetics and drugs adapted to the young age of their patients.
Most offices in which pediatric orthodontists work have a special space dedicated to kids, painted in vibrant colors and decorated in child-friendly patterns.
This specialized orthodontist undergoes the same stages of training as an orthodontist who treats adults. They follow a college then, based on their evolution in college and the score in DAT exam, they are accepted to a four-year dental school. Their education is completed by a 2 or 3 years residency in orthodontics. Some professionals continue their studies with a Ph.D. in orthodontics or a complementary field. Specific training may be taken along the career in order to get familiarized with the new technologies and medication available.
The difference between pediatric orthodontists and orthodontists who treat adults is that the first are specialized in pediatric dentistry and therefore they are familiarized with methods and techniques developed especially for the little ones. Furthermore, he offers parental education so that parents know exactly what to do in between the visits or when a visit to the dental office is not possible. They like and are used to working with children, therefore they are more patient and know how to approach any unpredictable situation.
Prevention and early detection
Orthodontics does not resume to placing brackets or straightening teeth. In fact, most orthodontists recommend early visits to the dental office in order to prevent teeth alignment problems and detect any possible issues from an early stage. A preventive visit should be made when the first teeth start to erupt. Usually this is done around the age of 5 or 6. This first visit to the orthodontist is recommended even if the teeth seem in good order and well align. This is mainly because an orthodontist looks for more than good teeth alignment. A simple check-up can reveal malocclusions (over- or under-bites), use X-rays to check teeth’s condition and identify overcrowded teeth in order to make room for erupting teeth. Furthermore, the orthodontist creates perfect facial symmetry by supervising jaw growth.
The need for an orthodontic check-up increases if the child displays one or more of the following features:
- Loss of baby teeth before the age of 5;
- Thumb sucking while permanent teeth erupt;
- Delay in teeth eruption or different problems when permanent teeth come out;
- Overcrowded teeth around the age of 7;
- Protruding teeth (top teeth do not fall directly on bottom teeth);
- Problems in speaking, chewing and/or biting.
These issues require immediate orthodontic check-up as in most cases, they require specialized treatment which must be started immediately for optimum results and minimum time of recovery.
Find a pediatric orthodontist (the perfect one!)
Dentists are not children’s best friends, but things have started to improve in the field. Gentle orthodontists and their age-appropriate customized offices make kids more at ease during orthodontic check-up. Since the first visit to the orthodontist is recommended to be done at an early age, it is important that the chosen professional is both an excellent orthodontist and a friendly person that children feel attracted to. Here are the main steps which should be taken into consideration when choosing a dental professional for your kid:
- Qualification – it is highly important that the chosen orthodontist has the necessary skills and qualification to work with small children and offer high quality dental care. Therefore knowing for their education and their qualification before settling down for a professional or another is essential. Usually all the information the patient needs to know are listed online (on the office’s website) or on presentation flyers available at the office. The personnel from the dental office can also answer any questions related to the orthodontist’s training.
- References – opinions from friends and family who have been to the orthodontist with their children are invaluable. They can spare the trouble caused by an unprepared professional or inappropriate equipment.
- Local dental association advice – when starting to look for an orthodontist, the local dental association should be the first place to search for a professional. Usually all the professionals are registered with this authority, so that the patient has a comprehensive list of dental professionals. Skills, competencies, training and results are also listed or can be provided upon request.
- Proximity to home – having the orthodontist as close to home as possible is an advantage, as children are impatient and rarely like long journeys. Furthermore, nearby orthodontists are easily accessible, so that patients can visit them for a face-to-face talk when things do not go as planned. And there are great chances that your child becomes friends with the orthodontist if he/she gets to see them in the neighborhood on a regular basis.
- Insurance compliance – when counting on a dental or health insurance to pay for the orthodontic treatment, it is important to choose an agreed orthodontist. Usually the company comes up with a list of pediatric orthodontists which are accepted/recommended and the patient should choose one of those professionals in order to benefit from a number of facilities.
Early check-ups with the pediatric orthodontist are benefic for children, as they can help them through the teeth eruption process and prevent further complications. All children should have at least one appointment with such a professional when the first permanent teeth erupt and one when all permanent teeth have appeared in order to check their position, the way in which the patient bites, chews and breathes and the way the jaw development is affecting child’s facial appearance. A thorough search throughout the neighborhood will surely lead you to a gentle, trustworthy and specialized orthodontist for your children.