When you are not pleased with your smile, there are many ways you can improve it. You can focus on your oral health at home by brushing and flossing regularly. Further, you can see a dentist for a cleaning. You may even elect to have professional whitening done to your teeth to improve their appearance. If you have serious issues with your teeth, you may be wondering when to see an orthodontist.
There are many reasons why a person may be less than pleased with their teeth. Aesthetic and medical issues that come from crowded teeth, crooked teeth, or gapped teeth can all contribute to why a person may want to improve their smile. When these issues, and others, are contributing to you hiding your smile, it is time to see an orthodontist.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is, as defined by the American Association of Orthodontists, “a dental specialist with additional education and training in the field of orthodontics.” Orthodontics is a dental specialty in which a dental professional focuses on jaw irregularities. Some of the irregularities that an orthodontist can diagnose, treat, or prevent include the following:
- Malpositioned teeth and jaws
- Misaligned bite patterns
- Overbites, underbites, and crossbites
- Crowded teeth
- Spaces between teeth
Compared to a regular dentist, an orthodontist has received more education and training. This is why they’re able to provide a higher level of care when it comes to treating tooth and jaw irregularities. Similar to how doctors must get additional education to become surgeons, a dentist must continue their education to become an orthodontist.
What Does an Orthodontist Do?
- Supervise facial growth, jawline development, and bite patterns in children
- Diagnose and treat malocclusion, or misaligned teeth and jaws
- Create treatment plans for patients that include braces, retainers, and other orthodontic appliances
- Perform surgery to straighten teeth
- Install and maintain dental appliances including braces, permanent retainers, palate expanders, headgear, or Herbst appliances
When to See an Orthodontist
If you’re wondering when to see an orthodontist, there are a few indicators that it is the right time. While there are many obvious signs such as tooth pain from misaligned teeth, there are other reasons. Often, people don’t realize that different issues such as sleep apnea may occur due to dental problems. An orthodontist will be able to diagnose what is happening with your teeth and how orthodontic work can help rectify those problems.
When to Take a Child to See an Orthodontist
Many children benefit from seeing an orthodontist. When it comes to preventing crooked teeth as your child grows up, a visit to the orthodontist will help. In fact, orthodontic visits are recommended for children as young as 7 if they are experiencing teeth and jaw-related issues.
Most children have their permanent teeth by their teenage years, around 12 or 13 years old. This is an ideal time for braces as their 28 permanent teeth will have come in. However, when to see an orthodontist depends on the presence of dental issues. Between the ages of 7 and 18, a visit to the orthodontist is recommended if the following issues are present:
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Visibly misaligned baby teeth
- Persistent thumb sucking habit
- Mouth breathing
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Inability to speak clearly
When to See an Orthodontist as an Adult
For adults, the decision to seek out orthodontic services is often done so out of necessity or for aesthetic reasons. Some adults experience teeth and jaw-related issues that require treatment. However, if you do not have any dental or jaw pain and your mouth functions fine when eating and speaking, then you may still benefit from orthodontic work. Wanting to have straighter teeth to beautify your smile is a good reason to seek out orthodontic care.
If you have been experiencing teeth and jaw-related issues and are wondering when to see an orthodontist, there’s no time like the present. The following issues can indicate that a trip to the orthodontist is in order for adults:
- Mouth, teeth, or gum pain: regular pain or soreness in the mouth, teeth, or gums usually indicates an underlying dental issue. an orthodontist can determine what the source of the pain is and what orthodontic procedure will best address it.
- Sleep apnea or breathing problems: Breathing problems such as sleep apnea can be caused by airway blockages stemming from jaw narrowness. Breathing through your mouth to get enough air, snoring, and frequently waking up at night all indicate sleep apnea or similar breathing problems.
- Speech problems: Certain speech difficulties can be caused by your jaw structure or teeth placement. Orthodontists can correct jaw and teeth issues that cause slurred speech, stuttering, lisps, or whistling while you talk.
- Difficulty chewing: Misaligned teeth or overbites, underbites, and crossbites all cause difficulty when it comes to enjoying food.
While an orthodontist can correct the aforementioned issues, the presence of these issues isn’t the only reason to seek orthodontic care. If you simply want a more aesthetically pleasing smile, that is a good reason to visit a local orthodontist.
How to Choose an Orthodontist
When to see an orthodontist isn’t the only question people have when considering orthodontic work. How to choose an orthodontist is another concern. In a world full of choices, we want to be sure that we are making the correct decision. It’s important when choosing an orthodontist that you do some research. You can even talk with friends and family about their experiences with different local practitioners, and ask them if they would recommend the orthodontists they visited.
When it comes to how to choose an orthodontist, there are several factors to consider when deciding which one is right for you. The following questions can help you decide who you go to for orthodontic care:
- Do they offer financing plans or accept my insurance?
- Is this orthodontist office located near my home, school, or workplace?
- Will the orthodontist work on my teeth or will the assistants?
- Is the staff dedicated to my unique needs?
Receive Quality Orthodontic Care At Palm Beach Orthodontics
If you’re wondering when to see an orthodontist, there’s no time like the present. Visiting an orthodontic specialist can save you from having to deal with prolonged teeth or jaw pain—among other issues.
If you are considering orthodontic care, our expert team of orthodontists, here at Palm Beach Orthodontics, can assure the best results possible. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today. A beautiful smile is just a conversation away.