October is National Orthodontic Health Month!

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It makes sense that the month most associated with candy would also be National Orthodontic Health Month, doesn’t it? With all those sweet treats that kiddos (and okay, parents too) just can’t resist, it’s the perfect time for some reminders about oral health and the benefits of orthodontic treatments for people of all ages.

It’s important to remember that in addition to regular dental checkups, orthodontics should be an ongoing part of your child’s dental health. Orthodontists specialize in aligning the jaws and moving teeth into proper alignment – which may sound scary, but is usually involves a pretty easy treatment plan that will result in the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted for your child. Orthodontists undergo the same training as dentists, but complete even more school after they’ve graduated from dental school. These 2-3 years of extra training means that when you choose to incorporate an orthodontist into your child’s dental health plan, you’re giving them the most well-rounded care available from a team of experts.

A lot of parents think that the proper age to seek out an orthodontic consult isn’t until your kids reach adolescence. But in truth, it’s around the time your little superheroes and princesses will love trick-or-treating the most. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that the perfect time for the first visit to an orthodontist is around the time that a child’s permanent teeth start coming in – meaning the orthodontic sweet spot (pun intended) is by the age of 7. If that seems too young to you, don’t worry. Starting the orthodontic process early doesn’t mean that your kids will get braces that soon, but it will help to diagnose potential problems and come up with an individualized treatment plan for issues like overcrowding or uneven bites.

And if your child has already started the orthodontic process, that’s great! You have already chosen to set your child on a path to their perfect, lifelong smile. Make sure to help your kids even further this month by avoiding the kinds of candy that can be a disaster for braces. Steer clear of hard, sticky and chewy candies because they can damage the hardware in a child’s mouth and require prolonged treatment – SCARY! Instead, look for soft, melt-in-your-mouth candy and treats like chocolate or peanut buttercups. (Yum!) And as an added precaution, we recommend brushing and flossing immediately after eating candy to avoid cavities.

In addition to all the physical health benefits your child will receive from orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that a healthy smile and straight teeth will help improve your child’s self-confidence for their entire life. It’s only one night a year that they’ll want to cover up their pearly whites with Halloween costumes. Remember these tips during National Orthodontic Health Month to make sure that when the monster masks and vampire fangs come off, a bright, beautiful smile is waiting beneath.