It must be emphasized to parents that they have to let their kids visit a dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts. This is to make sure that the dentist can properly guide them on how to effectively maintain their young teeth. But have your dentist recommend you to visit a pediatric orthodontist? What can this dental professional do for your kid’s dental health?
What is a pediatric orthodontist?
If your child has crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw, talk to his dentist. She may advise you to see a pediatric orthodontist. You may think that an orthodontist is just a specialty dentist for adults, but no! An orthodontist specializes in perfecting smiles using teeth straightening appliances for kids and adults alike. However, the process and the usage of these procedures may differ because of the nature of the patient’s dental development. That is the reason why there is a separate specialization for a pediatric orthodontist so they can concentrate on dealing with the orthodontic issues of kids like your child.
You may wonder what’s the difference between getting orthodontic solutions from a general pediatric dentist and a pediatric orthodontist. Yes, many dentists may have had experience in orthodontics. However, if more wide-ranging and complex orthodontic effort is needed, it may be a good decision to see a pediatric orthodontist. An orthodontist generally has two to three more years of training and education, specifically in advanced orthodontics, and that is done after and beyond dental school. He or she specializes in straightening teeth, correcting misaligned bites, and jaw problems of kids in particular.
Common forms of pediatric orthodontic procedures
This is the most popular orthodontic procedure that a pediatric orthodontist can use to correct kids’ teeth alignment. Braces function by applying appropriate amounts of pressure to the teeth and jaws to move them into a correct position. There are different kinds of braces that your pediatric orthodontist can let you and your child use. Metal braces are the traditional kind that can handle even the most complex malocclusion. For less noticeable options, you can choose ceramic or plastic braces that use tooth-colored materials to somehow conceal your orthodontic procedure. As kids are most likely to be bullied at school because of the stigma of using braces, these alternatives may be useful.
Some pediatric orthodontists also offer invisible aligners instead of wire-and-bracket type braces. This type uses removable dental aligners like the ones we normally use for whitening our teeth (whitening trays). They are customized to tightly fit your kids teeth and gently move them to straighten their position. However, because kids are less disciplined, they may not be able to follow the correct usage of this appliance, and misplaced aligners may commonly happen.
Temporary anchorage devices (TADs)
TADS are technically mini-screws that range from 6 to 12 millimeters in length and 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter. If the malocclusion of your child is a bit on the complicated side, his pediatric orthodontist can use these mini-screws to control the tooth movement during your chosen orthodontic treatment. They are temporarily screwed to the bony part of your gum and anchor wires to it in conjunction to the braces.
This type of orthodontic procedure basically uses sterile rubber bands that come in different sizes. Elastics help move your child’s teeth into their correct positions. The pediatric orthodontist can show you and your child the procedures on how to properly place and carefully remove the elastics. For these rubber bands to work, it has to be worn all the time, except when you are eating or brushing your teeth. Replacement of used rubber bands should be done 3 times a day, especially as soon as it breaks. The length of time you have to wear elastics depend on the nature of your malocclusion and how diligent and disciplined your child is in wearing them.
You may have seen this on movies and TV shows; kids portraying geeks and nerds having this awkward-looking metal headpiece attached to their braces. However, it does not diminish the fact that some orthodontic conditions greatly benefit from using headgears with their orthodontic braces. As mentioned earlier, this bulky yet functional metal gear is attached to the braces from the rear of the head. As with the elastics, a headgear is used when additional force or pressure is necessary to shift the teeth and jaws. If a headgear is needed, your pediatric dentist may usually recommend only wearing it at night while sleeping or at home to prevent your kid from getting bullied or have the appliance become a distraction or obstacle for your child in school.
Pediatric orthodontists, after performing their teeth-straightening procedure, ould also recommend using an appliance called a retainer. Retainers are utilized to keep your kid’s teeth in place once orthodontic braces are removed. Your child must wear it until your whole oral cavity adjusts to the teeth movement, as it also takes time for your child’s teeth to adapt to their new positions. By wearing retainers, you can prevent your child’s teeth from shifting and going back to its former crookedness. When this happens, all the time you and your child spent in wearing orthodontic braces will all go to waste. That is how important wearing retainers are post-procedure.
There are removable or fixed retainers. They are used depending on how your pediatric orthodontist prefers and deems it necessary. Some types of retainer are made with clear plastic, steel wires, ad rubber. For kids, there are options to make them look cool! Inquire about all this from your kid’s pediatric orthodontist so you can get an idea about glow-in-the-dark retainers, among other things.