Parents don’t forget “first” moments in their children’s lives: A first word, the first day of school, that first drive alone. Someone once said, “Days go slow, years go fast.” A parent looking at life in the rearview mirror probably uttered those words.
Dental practices share many milestones with their patients. Whether introducing a child to their first visit or creating a brilliant new smile for mom, dental visits offer special moments for all ages. Family-friendly care sets a foundation for lifetime dental health free of anxiety and avoidance. Nothing delights a dental team like helping youngsters grow into adults that value their teeth!
As practices interact with young patients, they observe changes in growth and development that vary significantly from child to child. Recall intervals between 6-12 months allow a dental team to monitor jaw changes, keep an eye out for cavity problems, and guide good home care habits. Some kids develop cavities soon after the first teeth appear, but early preventive and educational strategies can stop this disease in its tracks. Other youngsters suck a finger a little too long and negatively influence the early growth of their upper jaw. Kids are unique in every way!
BRACING FOR A PERFECT SMILE
Most parents anticipate another first with their kids: Braces. Traditionally, brackets and wires form a rite of passage in the teen years. In many cases, the early to mid-teens often present an ideal window for teeth straightening. With the right timing, their senior yearbook photo sports an All-American smile that’s captured forever.
One size rarely fits all, and the same is true with orthodontics. It’s important to remember that orthodontics combines straight teeth with proportional upper and lower jaws. The two jawbones grow at different rates, and boys and girls may follow different timing patterns. As a result, orthodontic care may provide the most significant benefit at a younger age than parents anticipate. The opportunity to guide bone growth fades quickly, especially in early developers. In other cases, a child may just need a short course of straightening at an older age to enjoy an optimal smile.
Parents know how different their kids can be from one another. The variations make it difficult to generalize the course of dental development, too. Siblings sometimes surprise each other with their first loose tooth at different ages or with unique genetic characteristics. If you’ve ever noticed a trait, such as a space between the front teeth that a grandparent had, DNA is expressing itself. One child may show up with it, but their brothers and sisters may not.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Straight teeth look terrific and are easier to keep clean, but that doesn’t mean orthodontics is necessary for every child. It’s also not surprising to find there may be more than one way to reach the desired goal. In addition, parents mull over real concerns about time, cost, and the effect of braces on other activities. But if treatment appears likely, determining an age that’s unique to each child helps create a perfect smile, normal function, and a comfortable jaw. In some cases, coordinating care with trusted specialists forms another part of a good outcome.
Regular visits during childhood make it much easier to identify the best orthodontic steps at the right time. Whether it’s a short-term appliance, regular braces, or a clear aligner system, modern dentistry offers many ways to guide a growing smile to perfection!
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