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Getting ready to straighten your or your child’s teeth? Read this first.

There are many reasons children and adults to want to straighten their teeth. Crooked teeth, jaw pain, trouble talking or chewing, to name a few. Naturally, the prospect comes with a lot of common questions. Dr. Mark Harrington, DDS is here with straight answers.

When should my child get their first orthodontic evaluation?

You can see an orthodontist at any age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive an initial consultation from an orthodontist around age seven, regardless of how their teeth and jaw look or feel at the time.

Why come see an orthodontist so young?

Just like preventive medicine, early orthodontic care can help prevent more severe, and likely more costly, care later on. But if you see any signs of an un-healthy bite before the age of seven, be sure to book that appointment.

Why should I see an orthodontist? Can my dentist provide orthodontic care?

Your dentist can manage minor orthodontic problems. But they’ll refer you to a board-certified orthodontist for more complex cases. From a board-certified orthodontist, you’ll receive:

  • Specialized care. Orthodontists go through several years of schooling focused on moving teeth and aligning jaws. They know what they’re doing.
  • Full-time focus. Orthodontists only work on orthodontics. This focus gives them a keen insight into diagnosing and treating problems that a non-specialist doesn’t have.
  • Custom treatment. Your orthodontist will work with you to plan the right course of action to address your needs.
  • Results that last. Orthodontists look at the big picture. They can ensure that your smile looks great, feels great and functions well — and that it stays that way.

Is orthodontic treatment just for kids?

Nope! Adult orthodontia is on the rise. Whether it’s to get that smile you’ve always wanted or simply to have better functioning teeth, it’s not uncommon for adults to get braces. Getting braces while you’re younger is easier because your teeth move more easily. But orthodontic treatment can work at any age and can fit into any lifestyle. The only requirement for treatment is that your gums and supporting tissues are healthy. It’s never too late to get a great smile!

Your options for braces today are much greater than the past — and much more discreet too. And if you’re worried about any prior dental issues such as gum disease or missing teeth, your dentist and orthodontist will work together. The goal is to help ensure you look and feel your best.

What are my treatment options?

Braces are typically what comes to mind when you think orthodontics. Braces are made up of brackets with wires that thread through them and are usually made of stainless steel. However, there are also braces made of ceramic. This means that they’ll be the same color as your teeth and therefore, much less noticeable.

Clear aligners are the other primary treatment option. You’ve probably heard of popular brands such as Invisalign. Clear aligners are plastic-like trays that come in a series. Each one is worn for 1-2 weeks and must be taken out when eating, flossing or brushing. Each tray moves the teeth a little closer to ideal.

Do-it-yourself aligners are the most recent treatment option. This new approach doesn’t require visiting a licensed dentist or orthodontist. The lack of professional supervision with these options comes with risks like losing teeth, bone loss, jaw pain and bite problems. For this reason, the American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthodontists doesn’t support this form of treatment. Even with orthodontist supervision, moving teeth doesn’t always go as planned. Having a professional by your side helps reduce your risk and improve success.

I’m seeing an orthodontist. Do I still need to see a dentist too?

You still need to visit your general dentist for checkups, teeth cleaning and routine X-rays. Seeing your dentist while you’re going through orthodontia treatment is actually very important. Regardless of your treatment plan, orthodontics increases the amount of plaque and food that can build up on your teeth. It puts you at greater risk of oral hygiene issues, such as gum disease and tooth decay. Seeing your dentist regularly can help you avoid these issues.

How do I find an orthodontist?

Your dentist can refer you to one, or you can make an appointment with one of our orthodontists right here.

Both your orthodontist and your dentist want to help you with the same thing – achieving your best and healthiest smile. It’s never too early, or too late, to get started on the path to straight teeth. To help reduce the cost, HealthPartners Dental plans offer a 15 percent discount. Make an appointment today.

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