When its more than candy terrorizing your kids teeth!

Sarah Lolley talks with the hippest Orthodontist on the block, Tina Reed D.M.D.

It’s that time of year again when candy becomes a meal, kids scream too loud on sugar highs, and you tell yourself that to save your kids teeth you are going to confiscate all the good stuff (and eat it when they are not looking).

In the spirit of the ghost of future dental work, Orthodontist Tina Reed explains how unfrightening and painless Early Treatment can be for parents and kids.

about_drreed AM: When is the appropriate age to start taking your child to see a dentist?

TR: Two to three years of age is an appropriate time to see the general dentist.  When the dentist starts to see the six year molars erupting later on down the line, he or she will have a better idea of how the bite is fitting together and may make a referral to an orthodontist.

The orthodontist will evaluate the way the adult molars are fitting together and will be able to see if there is a discrepancy between the size of the adult teeth coming in and the size of the jaws. I would only say about 30-40 percent of kids that I see for a consultation will need Early Treatment.

AM: What exactly is Early Treatment and what are some signs your child may need to go see an Orthodontist?

TR:  Early Orthodontic Treatment, if needed, will often begin around the age of 7 or 8, but can occur up to around the age of 10.  When a child has some baby or primary teeth and some adult teeth, this is an indication that the jaws are in a rapid stage of growth.  If there are issues such as crowded or overlapping teeth, teeth that simply won’t fit into the mouth or severe Overbites or Underbites, the orthodontist can use the growth of the jaws to create the necessary changes so that the adult teeth can erupt and bite correction can be made without ever having to take more dramatic measures such as pulling adult teeth or jaw surgery.

When I was younger it was routine to not see an orthodontist until you were 12 or 13.  Unfortunately by this time the jaws are finished growing so the only way to address the patient’s orthodontic problems was to extract teeth.  Often this meant at least four but up to eight healthy adult teeth!

Today, if a child has a situation where all of the adult teeth look as though they will not be able to fit into the arches, we will often consider a fixed or removable device that can gently widen the jaws, starting at the age of 7 or 8.    We can also judiciously work with the general dentist to wiggle a few baby teeth out at the appropriate time to allow adult teeth a better chance to erupt.

If there are bite issues, there are various gentle devices that can help correct the bite in these younger children.  Again, since the jaws are still growing, the orthodontist can use that jaw growth to get the changes in the bite that the child needs.

AM: What is detrimental about a child’s thumb-sucking habit?

TR: We get a lot of questions pertaining to thumb-sucking in older children.  Most orthodontists realize that this is truly a hard habit to break, however if it continues after the six-year molars erupt, it can be detrimental to the teeth and bite.  What we often see in these children are “open bites” where when the child bites down and the top and bottom front teeth don’t overlap but instead have a large space between them.  If this type of bite is left untreated past the age of 11 or 12, it can be very difficult to correct without the help of jaw surgery.  However if treated with a small fixed device that sits passively along the teeth at an early age, the habit is terminated and the bite often self corrects.

AM: What is the hardest part of giving your kids Braces and maintaining them?

TR: The most difficult aspect of any orthodontic treatment for a lot of kids is that you do have to be careful about staying away from sticky foods, which most of the time includes candy.  That’s a tough sell for a lot of parents and orthodontists, especially this time of year, but sticky candies can cause breakage of orthodontic devices, in addition to tooth decay!

A second issue is that Braces and other orthodontic appliances often require a little more up-keep in the hygiene department, so a little more time needs to be planned in brushing and flossing in and around orthodontic hardware.

We have a rewards system at my office where the patients can accrue points for clean teeth and no breakage of the appliances.  They can turn their points in for very cool prizes at the end of treatment or even use the points for us to make a donation on their behalf to a local charity.  That little bit of positive reinforcement goes a long way.

AM: How do you make going to an Orthodontist less scary?

TR: Fear as it pertains to the orthodontist is often of the unknown.  Most orthodontists have a lot of valuable information on their websites to help with that.  We have several videos on the Reed Orthodontic website that shows younger kids with braces, as well as tutorials on how to keep braces clean, and how to turn Expanders.  I encourage all of my patients to use the website before their first visit just so they can get a feel for the types of things we do in the office.

It also helps that we have a couple of music videos posted on the website that show the patients and the parents having a little fun during their orthodontic visits.

Lastly, orthodontists know that parents have a lot of questions pertaining to early treatment that they would like to discuss.  We encourage the parents to always keep an open line of communication with the orthodontist; not just before treatment but during and after as well.

Knowledge is power. If you know what the Orthodontist and the office looks like, as well as members of the team, it really helps that first visit and beyond.

This is how much fun Tina Reed’s team like to have in the office…..

home-top-pittsburgh-orthodontics Contact Tina and her team at these locations:

Squirrel Hill/412.421.8565/2345 Murray Ave/Suite 210

North Hills/412.367.4060/8160 Perry Hwy

Monroeville/ 412.856.3509/ 2790 Mosside Blvd(Shaw Building)

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