Safeguard Your Child’s Future Smile with Proactive Dental Care
Taking early steps to protect your child’s smile from orthodontic trouble always pays off in the long run. In the event your child does need braces in the future, the steps you take now will help ensure future orthodontic treatment is as effective and quick as possible.
Here are 5 of the most impactful ways you can help prevent your child from experiencing severe orthodontic problems.
1. Book your child’s first orthodontic evaluation by their 7th birthday.
The average child won’t get braces until they are around 12 to 14 years of age, but their first visit to a pediatric orthodontist should take place much earlier. We recommend parents book their child’s first orthodontic evaluation by their 7th birthday.
Early orthodontic evaluations give the pediatric orthodontist a chance to see how your child’s teeth and jaw are developing from a young age. The orthodontist will also be able to predict whether or not your child may need orthodontic care in the future.
The most important reason to schedule such an early orthodontic evaluation is that your child may need early treatment. Though not super common, there are cases in which a child may need early orthodontic treatment in order to ensure a straight, well-aligned smile in the future. In such cases, waiting until 12 years of age may make treatment much more difficult, expensive, and time-intensive.
2. Get help if your child is still thumbsucking by their 2nd birthday.
Thumbsucking is a common habit for babies and young toddlers. Though it may be endearing, thumbsucking can quickly turn into a bad habit after a certain age. Most kids will stop on their own anywhere between six months and two years of age. Chronic thumbsucking past two years of age and up to five years of age can be problematic.
Thumbsucking isn’t as innocent of a habit as it seems. The action of sucking on a thumb, pacifier, or any object can significantly impact the alignment of your child’s jaw and teeth. Research shows that your child’s bite alignment can change even before they begin to get their permanent teeth, hence the importance of breaking the habit quite early.
If your child is nearing their 2nd birthday and is still sucking their thumb, consider looking into getting help. Your child’s pediatrician and even their pediatric dentist can give you advice on stopping this habit.
3. Get space maintainers if your child prematurely loses a tooth.
In some cases, a child might lose a baby tooth before the adult tooth is ready to erupt. Sometimes this is from an injury or an extraction due to tooth decay. Losing a baby tooth early won’t usually affect the health of the future permanent tooth, but it can impact its placement.
Space maintainers are a very important dental device that prevent teeth from shifting into the gap where the baby tooth was lost. There are two types of space maintainers: fixed and removable. Fixed space maintainers are the most popular option as young kids can’t take them out. They come in a few different styles, all of which will effectively prevent teeth from moving in.
If your child has congenitally missing teeth, meaning the teeth never existed, space maintainers can also be used to keep the gap open for future treatment, such as a dental bridge or dental implant.
4. Maintain regular six-month check-ups with a pediatric dentist.
Ensuring your child achieves optimal oral health and a beautiful smile as an adult all comes down to preventive care appointments. Starting from one year of age your child should visit their pediatric dentist at least every six months for routine cleanings and check-ups.
These preventive care appointments give your child’s dentist a chance to see early warning signs of trouble and act on them before they become a big problem. In addition to seeing a pediatric orthodontist for evaluations early on, your child’s pediatric dentist will also play an important role in preventing orthodontic problems.
Even after your child receives braces or some other form of orthodontic treatment, six-month visits with their pediatric dentist are just as crucial to their overall oral health.
5. Make sure your child continues to wear a retainer after braces.
After your child has completed an orthodontic treatment plan and has their braces off, it’s important to continue following through with a retainer. Your child’s pediatric orthodontist will give your child clear instructions on how long to wear their retainer.
In most cases, 24/7 wear (minus meals or oral care) with a retainer is necessary for the few months following removal of the braces. After that, your child will eventually be able to just wear their retainer at night.
Most kids aren’t too thrilled about retainers, and understandably so! However, as a parent, it’s imperative to supervise your child and make sure the retainer is being worn. Failing to wear a retainer will cause the teeth you just worked so hard to straighten to start shifting.
The We Make Kids Smile team will keep a watchful eye on your child’s oral health development.
If you’re looking for a compassionate, knowledgeable pediatric dental care team to call your child’s dental home, We Make Kids Smile is the right place. To schedule your child’s first appointment with us, simply call our closest office or fill out this easy online form.