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Is It Safe to Start Orthodontic Treatment During Pregnancy?

November 29th, 2023

The good news is that orthodontic treatment during pregnancy is generally safe. In fact, it might even be the perfect timing for you. If you wait until after your baby is born, it may be harder to commit to the appointments and fit them into your new schedule. There are some important considerations to keep in mind.

1. Consult with your healthcare provider: Before starting any orthodontic treatment during pregnancy, consult with your obstetrician or midwife. They can provide guidance and assess your individual health and pregnancy status to ensure it's safe for you.

2. Timing: Pregnancy is a critical time for your baby's development, and minimizing potential stressors is important. If your orthodontic treatment plan involves more invasive procedures like oral surgery, you may want to wait until after your baby is born. However, waiting until after delivery might make it harder to commit to the appointments and fit them into your new schedule.

3. X-rays: X-rays are commonly used in orthodontic treatment planning. It's important to minimize exposure to ionizing radiation during pregnancy. If X-rays are necessary, inform your orthodontist about your pregnancy, and they can take steps to minimize radiation exposure, such as using lead aprons and thyroid collars.

4. Morning sickness: Morning sickness often subsides after the first trimester. If morning sickness causes you to vomit daily, you may want to wait until it subsides to start treatment.

5. Oral hygiene: Pregnancy can increase the risk of gum problems and dental issues. Maintaining good oral hygiene during pregnancy is crucial. If you choose to have orthodontic treatment, be diligent about brushing and flossing to prevent complications.

Ultimately, the decision to start orthodontic treatment during pregnancy should be made in consultation with your healthcare providers. They can help you evaluate the potential risks and benefits based on your individual circumstances.

For more information about orthodontic services, or to speak with one of our board-certified specialists contact us online or call 302-678-3000.

Should My Child Lose All Their Baby Teeth Before Visiting the Orthodontist?

October 25th, 2023

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic evaluation between the age of 7 and 8. This may seem early, but it allows orthodontists to identify and address potential orthodontic issues while a child's mouth and jaw are still growing.

Children typically begin to lose their baby teeth, also known as primary teeth or deciduous teeth, around the age of 6. This process continues through their early teenage years, and by the time they reach adolescence, most children will have lost all of their baby teeth and replaced them with permanent adult teeth. However, the exact timing can vary from child to child.

The order in which children lose their baby teeth can also differ, but generally the teeth fall out in the same order that they arrived:

  • Lower central incisors (bottom front teeth) are usually the first to be lost, typically around 6 to 7 years of age.
  • Upper central incisors (top front teeth) are next, often lost between 7 and 8 years of age.
  • Lateral incisors (the teeth adjacent to the central incisors) follow, typically around 7 to 8 years old.
  • First molars (the large back teeth) are usually lost between 9 and 11 years of age.
  • Canine teeth (the pointed teeth next to the lateral incisors) are lost around 9 to 12 years of age.
  • Second molars (the last set of molars in the back of the mouth) are the last to go, typically between 10 and 12 years old.

It's important to note that these ages are general guidelines, and there can be considerable variation among individual children. Some children may start losing teeth earlier or later than the average, and that's perfectly normal. Typically, by age 7 many of the permanent teeth have come in, and orthodontists can evaluate the alignment of the teeth and the relationship between the upper and lower jaws. Early intervention may be recommended if significant issues are identified, or the orthodontist may recommend periodic check-ups to monitor your child's growth and development, with treatment starting at a later age when it's most effective.

Not all children will need orthodontic treatment, and the decision to pursue it should be made in consultation with an orthodontist who can assess your child's specific situation with a physical exam and a full set of x-rays.

For more information about orthodontic services, or to speak with one of our board-certified specialists contact us online or call 302-678-3000.

How Orthodontics and Oral Hygiene Impact Your Overall Health

September 27th, 2023

Orthodontic treatment can certainly improve the alignment and appearance of teeth, which can boost self-esteem and confidence. But it's not just about having a bright and beautiful smile; your oral health can have far-reaching effects on various aspects of your body. Here are three ways in which oral health might impact you:

  1. Heart Health and infections: Poor oral health, particularly gum disease (periodontitis), has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and stroke. The mouth is a gateway for many infections. Poor oral hygiene can increase the risk of infections entering the bloodstream, which can affect various organs and systems in the body. Inflammation in the mouth may contribute to inflammation throughout the body, which can affect the heart. Chronic inflammation in the gums can contribute to systemic inflammation, which is associated with a range of diseases, including cancer, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. Orthodontic treatment can make it easier to maintain good oral hygiene and health by aligning the teeth and jaws making it easier to clean between them.
  2. Pregnancy Complications: Pregnant women with gum disease may be at a higher risk for complications such as premature birth and low birth weight. The inflammation from gum disease could potentially trigger an inflammatory response elsewhere in the body.
  3. Digestive Disorders: Oral health issues can affect your ability to chew food properly, leading to digestive problems. Properly aligned teeth are essential for effective biting and chewing. Orthodontic treatment can correct issues such as overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites, which can affect a person's ability to eat comfortably and speak clearly.

It's crucial to maintain good oral hygiene practices, including regular dental check-ups and cleanings, to prevent oral health problems. The mouth is not isolated from the rest of the body, and taking care of your oral health is an integral part of maintaining good overall health. So, while the cosmetic aspect of orthodontics is undoubtedly important and often the primary reason people seek treatment, it's important to recognize that orthodontics can have a broader impact on your health. Many orthodontic cases involve a combination of cosmetic and functional considerations. It's essential to consult with an orthodontist to determine the specific benefits and goals of treatment for your individual needs.

For more information about orthodontic services, or to speak with one of our board-certified specialists contact us online or call 302-678-3000.

Early Orthodontic Intervention

August 31st, 2023

Picture someone with braces. Did you imagine a teenager with rows of colorful brackets? While it’s true that most orthodontic patients are teenagers, orthodontists also work with adults, as well as providing interceptive orthodontic treatment for younger children.

Interceptive orthodontics can reduce the need for jaw surgery or tooth extraction, it can correct certain problems as they appear (before they can get worse), shorten the length of later orthodontic treatment, encourage better facial development, and pave the way for a better final result.

We Head Off Problems Early With Interceptive Orthodontics
The conventional wisdom is that orthodontic treatment can’t start until all the adult teeth have emerged, but certain problems with alignment, bite, and facial development can appear long before the full set of adult teeth. An orthodontist can help a child’s jawbones grow properly so that there will be enough room for all the adult teeth and a better structure for a healthy bite. When we correct malocclusions (bad bites) as they appear, it makes future treatment faster, easier, and sometimes unnecessary!

What Causes a Malocclusion?
Harmful habits like thumb sucking, nail-biting, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing can all contribute to a bad bite by leading to a narrow upper arch, an underdeveloped lower jaw, an open bite, a deep bite, or dental crowding. These can all make it more difficult to speak clearly or chew and swallow effectively. Genetics is also a factor in certain cases. The main goal of early orthodontic intervention is to repair the damage caused by these habits and stop the habits themselves so the adult teeth can grow in how they should.

How can bad habits affect oral health? Lots of ways:

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What Are Typical Interceptive Orthodontic Treatments?
The biggest difference between phase 1 and phase 2 orthodontics is that phase 1 treatments don’t involve a full set of braces. That can wait until later — if they’re still needed by then. Common treatments in interceptive orthodontics (phase 1):

Eliminating a crossbite with upper jaw expansion
Expansion to make more room for adult teeth
Early extraction of specific baby teeth to help the adult teeth come in
Holding space open for permanent teeth after the early loss of a baby tooth
Reducing the protrusion of upper teeth to protect them from trauma

What Makes a Child a Good Candidate for Interceptive Orthodontics?
Early orthodontic intervention won’t correct every type of orthodontic issue, so the best way to find out if it would benefit your child is to bring them in for a consultation around age 7, particularly if you’ve noticed any obvious problems with their bite or if they have one of the harmful oral health habits we mentioned. Until then (and always), look out for their oral health by encouraging good brushing and flossing!

Helping our patients achieve healthy smiles for life is always our top priority!

For more information about orthodontic services, or to speak with one of our board-certified specialists contact us online or call 302-678-3000.