For those who are embarrassed by their smile, a trip to the dentist might not be good enough. While dental professionals can help ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy, there is little he or she can do about straightening your smile.
While it may seem straightforward for some, figuring out if you need to simply see your dentist or go to a specialist can be hard. Not everyone who sees an orthodontist needs to have braces because of overcrowding. Mouth breathing, grinding teeth, or even the inability to close your lips can all be indications of a much deeper problem.
When the Time Is Right for Children
According to the American Academy of Orthodontists, children should have at least one orthodontic evaluation by age seven.
The prominent reason for early exams is so that the doctor can catch some of the problems early and allow for treatment during the natural growth process. For example, your orthodontist may notice that your child has a cross bite, a condition where the lower teeth close outside the upper ones. The addition of a palatal expander to your child’s daily routine can correct this issue without painful oral surgery.
The other reason most doctors suggest early exams is so that they can tell if there are orthodontic problems that may need to be treated later. Every child grows at his or her own pace, but there are ranges in which teeth should erupt. An expert can tell if your child has a problem or if they are within the correct range of development. Your doctor can also tell if your child will have adequate space to accommodate all his or her permanent teeth.
Even if your orthodontist determines that your child has a problem, do not expect to see your kindergartner in braces. Most treatment will not begin until a child is between 9 and 14 years old.
When Adults Should Go
It is easy to know when your child needs to go to a dental specialist. However, it is not so easy to know when an adult should make an appointment.
The most common indicator is if you are self-conscious about your smile because you do not want people seeing the crooked, overcrowded teeth in your mouth. If this is the case, you should make an appointment to have your teeth examined.
Believe it or not, braces are not just for children anymore. With the rise in popularity of clear aligners and lingual braces-ones that fit on the inside of your teeth-adults can get the straight teeth they want. Straighter smiles are easier to maintain and less subject to abnormal wear and tear.
While straight smiles are the most common reason an adult would go to the orthodontist, it is not the only reason. Problems with your jaw shifting or making sounds can be a sign of a serious problem. Only an orthodontic specialist can help you treat the problem and keep you from undue pain and suffering.