Experts estimate that around four million people in the United States wear braces. Seventy-five percent of these people are teenagers.
Do you suspect that your child might need braces? Do you have concerns about having them work with a traditional orthodontist?
If your child is very young or has specific needs, a pediatric orthodontist might be more beneficial. Listed below are some signs that your child could benefit from seeing this type of orthodontist. You’ll also learn how to choose the right one for them.
What Is a Pediatric Orthodontist?
A pediatric orthodontist is similar to a pediatric dentist or pediatric doctor. They’re an individual who specializes in helping kids improve the look and function of their smiles.
Pediatric orthodontists use a variety of devices and treatments, such as braces, to realign the teeth and correct various issues. This includes problems like overcrowding and poor jaw alignment.
Benefits of Seeing a Pediatric Orthodontist
There are many advantages that come with taking your child to see a pediatric orthodontist. The following are some of the greatest ones to keep in mind:
Kids often feel much more comfortable when they’re sitting in a pediatric orthodontist’s office. These offices are designed with kids in mind and are much less intimidating.
Experience with Kids
Pediatric orthodontists know how to work with kids. They know what language to use and which techniques will keep children calm and make the process of getting braces or having them adjusted as easy as possible.
The sooner you get your child in to see a pediatric orthodontist, the easier it is to come up with a long-term care plan. They can help you figure out how to proceed based on your child’s current needs and ensure that you make the right decisions.
Signs Your Child Needs Pediatric Orthodontic Care
Not every child needs to work with a pediatric orthodontist. If you’re unsure what kind of care your child needs, though, consider whether or not the following signs are present:
Early or Late Baby Teeth Loss
Losing baby teeth too early can be an indicator that braces are needed. The opposite is also true, though.
If a child loses their baby teeth early, their teeth may shift into empty spaces and grow in crooked. Late baby teeth loss can also lead to potential alignment issues.
Do you notice that your child’s jaw seems to be misaligned? Do they have an overbite or underbite?
If their teeth don’t line up properly, this can create more serious jaw issues in the future. It’s best to address the matter as soon as possible.
In addition to jaw misalignment, you might also notice that your child’s teeth have become crowded. Do they overlap a lot? Do they seem too close together?
If this is the case, there’s a good chance your child needs braces. The sooner they can see a pediatric orthodontist, the better.
Long-term thumb-sucking can lead to serious issues with your child’s teeth. Their front teeth might protrude outward, and they might also experience crowding on their bottom teeth. Both of these can lead to functional issues, in addition to affecting the appearance of your child’s smile.
Pay attention to the way your child breathes. Do they seem to often or always breathe through their mouth, rather than their nose?
Mouthbreathing can lead to crowding because it affects the way the tongue sits. If it doesn’t sit on the roof of the mouth, it can lead to a smaller mouth and narrower jaw. This, in turn, creates less space for their teeth to grow.
If your child experiences speech difficulties, braces could help. Issues like lisps, for example, can often be cleared up with pediatric orthodontic care.
Biting the Inside of the Mouth
Occasionally biting the inside of their mouth isn’t a big deal. If your child is often biting down on their cheek by accident, though, that can indicate that there are some problems with their jaw alignment that need to be addressed.
Finally, chewing difficulties can also indicate a need for braces. If a child’s bite is misaligned, it could be harder for them to chew their food thoroughly before swallowing. This can increase their risk of choking and could have a negative impact on their digestion.
How to Choose the Right Orthodontist
If you’re convinced that pediatric orthodontic care is right for your child, the next step is to find the right orthodontist for the job. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you aim to learn more about the different orthodontists in your area and the services they offer:
- Check their credentials and make sure they’re licensed to work in your state (make sure their license is up to date, too)
- Ask about their experience and find out how long they’ve been working with kids
- Ask to see samples of their work
- Read reviews online to see what past patients (and patients’ parents) have to say about them
- Consider whether or not they accept your insurance
If you don’t have insurance, you might also want to ask about the specific payment options they offer. Will they give you a discount if you pay with cash, for example, or will they let you set up a payment plan?
Schedule an Appointment with an Orthodontist Today
Now that you know more about what a pediatric orthodontist does and the benefits they have to offer, do you think it’s a good idea for your child to work with one? Do you notice any of the signs outlined above that indicate a pediatric orthodontist is a good fit?
If so, be sure to keep our guidelines in mind for finding the right orthodontist. They’ll help you find the best person for the job and get your child the care they need.
Don’t forget to visit the Children and Parenting section of our site as well. You’ll find lots of other useful resources there that will guide you through the ups and downs of caring for your child’s health.