The American Dental Association recommends that all people visit the dentist at least twice a year for comprehensive exams and dental cleanings. However, patients with braces may already see an orthodontist. Getting orthodontic appointments doesn’t mean you stop dental appointments. In fact, it is even more important to see your dentist during this time to avoid oral health problems. Use this guide for caring for braces, seeing your dentist and seeing your orthodontist!
Many people think that dentistry and orthodontics is basically the same thing, when they are actually vastly different. Both professions require the completion of dental school, which takes 10 years from start to finish. Orthodontists do the same dental school plus extra years learning to correct bite and alignment issues. All orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists.
Dentists will deal with oral health issues such as removing tooth decay, providing gum disease treatments, performing root canals and more. Patients need to keep seeing dentists during their orthodontic care. During bite and alignment correction, dental exams and cleanings can find instances of dental decay. An orthodontist may spot the signs of decay or gum issues, but a dentist will need to fix them.
We provide orthodontic treatment to children, teens and more. Children sometimes need child orthodontics, as they go through a period where the baby teeth fall out and the adult teeth come in. Even though they lose their first set of teeth, meticulous oral hygiene needs to happen to avoid oral health diseases and orthodontic issues. The health of the baby teeth will determine a lot about the health of the adult teeth. If the baby teeth are cared for poorly, this will lead to early dental decay or tooth loss (even for infants) and the timeline for when permanent teeth come in will be messed up.
Children should start losing their teeth by age 7. Losing the teeth too soon can mean that a permanent tooth drops into the space, whether or not that tooth is supposed to be there. The baby teeth should fall out as the mouth grows and makes way for all the adult teeth to come in. The mouth must be bigger and have more space for this to happen properly. Tooth decay can lead to early tooth loss that makes adult teeth come in too soon and in the wrong place, which can cause many oral health problems in the future.
When teeth come in crooked as a child, the adult teeth can come in incorrectly. If a child has crooked teeth or a bite or alignment issue, they can develop speech impediments or tooth decay easily. The teeth are much harder to clean and decay can set in quickly. The baby teeth can also break from uneven pressure placed on crooked teeth or from the jaws being in the wrong position. Child orthodontics is orthodontics provided for children that corrects any bite and alignment issues with the teeth and jaws to prevent those problems. This treatment aligns a smile correctly so teeth fall out at the proper times and so the adult teeth come into the mouth in the right spot.
When children get braces, it’s incredibly important to help them take care of those braces. Braces help bite, alignment and crooked teeth immensely. However, because children only have orthodontic options where appliances are bonded to the teeth, cavities can happen easier. It is harder to clean around areas with appliances, so cavities can form during that straightening time. You will have to help children to brush their teeth at least 2-3 times a day or after every meal. They will need help flossing as well and will need to avoid the sugary foods and drinks (like soda). This will help remove plaque from the teeth that would decay them.
Always practice great oral hygiene and help your child to do so while they have orthodontic appliances. This is their best weapon against decay that would otherwise happen. However, the baby teeth are delicate. Sometimes children still get cavities with their braces despite great oral hygiene. When that happens, a child will most likely need to get the cavity fixed so it doesn’t grow.
We work in conjunction with dentists to make this possible. If an appliance such as a wire or bracket needs to be removed, we remove them so dental work can take place. We then replace the appliance so that the orthodontic treatment can continue. This service will generally happen the same day or within a day or 2 of the dental appointment. If no removal of the orthodontic appliance is needed, a dentist can fix the cavity as they normally would, working around the braces.
If a child gets a cavity with braces, you will need to work with us to determine if the cavity needs to be fixed immediately or not. We always prefer that cavities and other dental issues are corrected before orthodontic appliances are put on the teeth. We actually may not put braces on a child’s teeth without that clearance so major dental issues don’t happen. All patients can benefit from having an orthodontist and a dentist at some point in their lives. The American Association of Orthodontics actually recommends that all children have an orthodontic exam by age 7 or 8 to ensure there aren’t any orthodontic issues that would affect growth and development.
Make sure your child has this appointment and that they keep up on their dental appointments twice a year. At home, make sure both you and your child have great oral hygiene habits to prevent tooth decay. If decay happens when you have braces, we can help correct it. To know more about child orthodontics, cavities with braces and adult braces, call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics today at (720) 887-6003!