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Orthodontics for Children

Childhood dental care can help children enjoy healthy teeth and gums for life. To achieve this goal, many children need more than regular checkups and routine cleanings with a dentist. They also need orthodontics.

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of bad bites. Park Dental dentists offer a free consultation to discuss your child’s options for orthodontic care, which may include referral to an orthodontist near you. With over 50 Park Dental practices in the Twin Cities, greater Minnesota and western Wisconsin, we make it easy and convenient to get the personalized orthodontic information your child needs.

What Is Orthodontics, and Why Is It Important?

For many children, straight teeth don’t happen on their own. Guiding teeth into a healthy bite is an orthodontist’s job. Orthodontists are dentists who complete two to three years of specialized training after dental school. During this time, they learn how to diagnose, prevent and correct bad bites, or malocclusions.

A bad bite is a poor fit between the upper and lower teeth when you bite together. Poor alignment can occur due to problems passed down in families, such as spacing issues, or thumb sucking and other behaviors. Bad bites may affect the smile, but that’s not their only complication. Unhealthy bites can have a variety of harmful consequences for oral health, including:

  • Difficulty with cleaning teeth, which can lead to tooth decay—and the need for treatment, such as tooth filling—and periodontal disease
  • Problems with biting or chewing
  • Speech problems

Orthodontics uses a variety of treatments to slowly move teeth into proper alignment over time, or keep teeth from becoming misaligned. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic checkup for all children by age 7. This includes children who still have some baby teeth. Early identification of bite problems can lead to easier treatment and better results.

Signs of a Bad Bite

A variety of signs may indicate that your child has a problem with teeth alignment and needs orthodontics, including:

  • Baby teeth that fall out too early or too late
  • Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
  • Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose
  • Difficulties with speech
  • Overbite or underbite
  • Problems with chewing or biting
  • Protruding teeth
  • Teeth clenching or grinding
  • Teeth crowding
  • Teeth that don’t fit together well
  • Thumb sucking

Questions to Ask Your Child’s Dentist About Orthodontics

You may have many questions if you’re interested in learning more about orthodontics for your child. You can turn to your Park Dental dentist for the answers and information you need. Important questions to ask include:

  • Does my child need to see an orthodontist?
  • How long does orthodontic treatment take?
  • How will my child’s oral health routine need to change during treatment?
  • What treatments are available?
  • What will my child and I need to do to help treatment be successful?
  • What will treatment cost, and will my dental insurance cover a portion of the cost?
  • Which treatment would be best for my child?

Types of Orthodontics Treatment

Park Dental may be able to treat a mild or moderate orthodontic problem. However, in other cases, referral to an orthodontist for specialized care may be necessary. Orthodontics includes several types of treatment, such as:

• Braces
This treatment uses brackets mounted on teeth and connected by wires to slowly move teeth into proper position over time. Several types of braces are available, including metal and ceramic versions. Sometimes, braces may be paired with small rubber bands called elastics for extra force to move teeth.
• Clear Aligners
Customized to fit your child’s teeth, a clear aligner is a transparent mouthpiece that your child will wear to correct teeth misalignment. Many Park Dental practices provide this treatment option.
• Removable Retainers
These mouthpieces are made to fit your child’s teeth. The goal of wearing a removable retainer is to help teeth maintain their new position after another form of treatment, such as braces, concludes.

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