Let me ask you some questions:
Did you know that children should have an orthodontic assessment between the ages of 7-10? If I am speaking honestly: No I didn’t know!
Did you know that no referral is needed to see an orthodontist? Again, honestly speaking, I thought an orthodontist is someone my dentist would refer me to.
Did you know some orthodontic problems can be easily corrected when treated early? No because the name Orthodontists just screams complication to me as a parent!
If you too answered no to some or all of the above questions (like myself) you are clearly not alone! According to the ASO most Australian parents are a slightly confused when it comes to understanding orthodontics.
The ASO (Australian Society of Orthodontists) is the peak body of Orthodontist and Orthodontic knowledge across Australia. The ASO helps patients understand their options for orthodontic treatment and provides information about dealing with the most qualified practitioners providing orthodontic care.
After answering no to the questions above, I knew I was not educated enough in this area from a parental perspective. To me an orthodontist was someone that my dentist would refer me too if need be. (Yes they will work together)
But after doing my parental research and self-educating via google I jumped onto the ASO website and started some reading I found out some important information that as a parent need to know about my children’s smile……
According to the ASO there is a difference; an orthodontist is a specialist who has undertaken an additional three years education and training in facial growth and development, straightening teeth and choosing the best treatment option specifically for you or your child. A general dentist receives broad training across all fields of dentistry, however they are not a specialist in moving teeth. Dentists are often the first to recognise you may have an orthodontic problem. By working together, an orthodontist-dentist partnership can achieve the best results for your oral health – and your smile.
Orthodontists – specialise in aligning jaws and straightening teeth and have expert knowledge of new and emerging technologies to create beautiful smiles.
Dentists – clean teeth, fill cavities and check your general oral health.
It is important to understand that some orthodontic problems can be easily corrected when treated in young growing jaws, well before all the adult teeth are through. Waiting until teenage years to see an orthodontist for the first time can result in further worsening of these early problems resulting in more complicated and invasive treatment methods which would otherwise have been avoided.
Orthodontists are highly trained to pinpoint a child’s orthodontic problems from a young age, even if they are subtle, and they can start correcting some problems to avoid potential long term issues.
According to the ASO, there are several ways you can determine whether your child needs early treatment. If you observe any of these characteristics or behaviours, visit an orthodontist:
• Early loss of baby teeth (before age five)
• Late loss of baby teeth (after age five or six)
• The child’s teeth do not meet properly or at all
• The child is a mouth breather
• Front teeth are crowded (you won’t see this until the child is about seven or eight)
• Protruding teeth, typically in the front
• Biting or chewing difficulties
• A speech impediment
• The child’s jaw shifts when he or she opens or closes the mouth
• The child is older than five years and still sucks a thumb
Early orthodontic treatment begins while a child’s jaw bones are still soft. They do not harden until children reach their late teens. As the bones are still pliable, corrective procedures such as braces work faster than they do for adults. Early treatment is an effective preventive measure that lays the foundation for a healthy, stable mouth in adulthood.
“A child’s smile is one of their most important features”
A beautiful, straight smile means your child’s teeth are easier to clean and their gums are healthier, it can also exude confidence and reduce stress.
Having a confident and healthy smile can positively impact your child’s life, which is why consulting an orthodontist to help your child create their most healthy and attractive smile is important.
For me personally as a parent, once being made aware of the difference between a dentist and orthodontist, and the importance for both being involved in my children’s health was clear.