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Em‘brace’ Your Child’s First Orthodontic Visit

Just when you think you’ve mastered the tooth fairy’s visitation schedule, you realize that your child may need to see the orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. “By this age, several permanent teeth in most children have erupted, allowing an orthodontist to effectively evaluate orthodontic conditions,” explains Dr. Jeff Martin of Martin Orthodontics in Orlando. “Basically, the earlier the assessment is made and orthodontic care begins, the easier it will be to correct problems in the long run.”

Orthodontic care is advised for many reasons. “We most often work to treat crowding of teeth, open bite (front teeth do not match), deep overbite (lower front teeth bite into palate), missing lateral incisors, underbite (lower front teeth in front of upper teeth), spacing of teeth, and overjet (protruding front teeth),” said Dr. Jason Battle of Premiere Orthodontics, located in Dr. Phillips and Waterford Lakes. “Some of these common orthodontic issues can be caused by thumb sucking, accidents, tooth decay, or even be inherited,” says Dr. Andre Baptiste of Baptiste Orthodontics in Orlando. Orthodontic interventions that achieve straight teeth allow for  easier oral maintenance (which can prevent cavities), prevention of surface wear of teeth, limited stress on supportive teeth bones and jaw joints (which can lead to headaches), decrease risk of gum disease and, of course, the formation of an attractive smile.

Many patients fear dental visits but, truthfully, your child’s first trip to the orthodontist is nothing to grind your teeth over! The initial consultation, typically 45 minutes in length, likely will include a pain-free examination, digital photos, an X-ray, evaluation, and discussion (i.e. to answer your questions). A mold of his/her teeth may also be taken. Afterwards, the doctor may advise that your child doesn’t need orthodontic care for a few years, if at all…and that, of course, would earn a smile. “Sometimes braces are not needed to get noticeable improvements in tooth alignment. For example, I had a 7-year-old patient come in for a visit because of crowding of the lower permanent teeth. I performed a procedure to reduce the width of the adjacent baby teeth and, as a result, the permanent incisors aligned on their own within nine months,” said Dr. Jason Battle.

These days there are so many different options for orthodontic care. One mom says her 9-year-old son wears a “retainer that I can adjust at home weekly, which saves a lot of time by omitting the office visits. The goal is to get some teeth moved before he needs braces and perhaps even prevent the need for braces entirely.” Her 7-year-old son wears a permanent spacer.

Braces are common among tweens/teens and have come a long way in regards to aesthetics. Your child can opt for clear, gold, or tooth-colored braces instead of the traditional silver metal. He/she can also choose the hue of the ties that hold the wire in brackets. “We encourage our adolescent patients to have fun with styling their smile. In fact, the ‘fun zone’ on our website ( allows a patient to explore color options and test which look is best to brighten his or her smile,” said Dr. William Fravel, based in Ocoee. Invisalign, another popular option, is like a set of clear retainers (changed about every 2 weeks) that can be removed for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing.

Sure, braces may take a bit of getting used to, but orthodontic patients can still play sports or musical instruments, and can even have the occasional soda (brushing afterward). While kids used to dread the prospect of braces, many now actually embrace the opportunity to showcase their trendy style choices. It’s completely worthwhile in the end when they see their beautiful new smile.

Foods to avoid when you have braces

  • Chewy foods like bagels, hard rolls, licorice
  • Crunchy foods like popcorn, ice, chips
  • Sticky foods like caramels and gum
  • Hard foods like nuts & candy
  • Foods you have to bite into like corn on the cob, apples, carrots