October is National Orthodontic Health Month! During October, orthodontists around the country work to promote awareness about the benefits of orthodontic treatment and celebrate the far-reaching advantages of a healthy smile. If you’re looking to improve your child’s (or your own!) oral health game, it isn’t enough to simply hide the Halloween candy this month. Read on to learn why a healthy mouth begins with a well-aligned smile.
What is Orthodontic Treatment?
Simply put, orthodontic treatment strives to create alignment between the positioning of the teeth and jaw. A myriad of appliances can be used to correct various bite issues including braces, retainers and headgear, among others. While many treatment plans will be most effective on children whose jaws are still developing, there are still plenty of options for adults to achieve a healthy bite.
Why is Orthodontic Treatment Important?
For many reasons, orthodontic treatment is a crucial part of any oral care routine. Under the care of an orthodontist, patients will gain:
- A healthy bite.
The jaw functions best when it is properly positioned. Ill-positioned jaws contribute to a multitude of problems including difficulty chewing, speech impediments and even more serious issues including sleep apnea.
- Proper alignment of the teeth.
Imagine if, day after day, you tried to force a puzzle piece into a space where it clearly didn’t fit. You’d push and prod and grind, all to get the piece to fit comfortably and functionally in the allotted area. At some point, after all that forcing, you might achieve a fit, but the puzzle piece (and all those pieces surrounding it) are going to show quite a bit of wear and tear. Your teeth are like those puzzle pieces. When they are properly aligned, everything fits together in harmonious fashion. But when the teeth don’t match up, you leave your teeth exposed to years of extensive wear, leading to an increase of dental health problems down the line.
- An aesthetically pleasing smile.
Like it or not, having a straight smile is becoming increasingly mainstream in today’s society and those with straight teeth are commonly perceived as being more successful overall. It has been shown that the impression your smile leaves can be the difference between gaining opportunities or being passed over.
Another key advantage of National Orthodontics Month is educating the public and clearing up any confusion over orthodontic treatment. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, common misconceptions are:
- Anyone who provides braces or aligners is an orthodontist.
- Orthodontists are expensive.
- Office visits are not required to get straight teeth.
- Orthodontic treatment takes years.
- Orthodontic treatment is strictly cosmetic.
- Orthodontists only use braces.
- Orthodontic treatment is only for kids.
These myths keep far too many people from obtaining a healthy smile, and National Orthodontics Month is a perfect opportunity to dispel these rumors.
How You Can Participate in National Orthodontic Health Month
With patient education at the forefront, October is the perfect time to visit the orthodontist! Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- The American Academy of Orthodontics recommends that children be seen by an orthodontist by age 7. This enables the doctor to determine what issues, if any, are present. This early start allows the orthodontist to identify early warning signs to monitor, as well as tackle current issues while the jaw is still growing.
- Your child does not need to have lost all of his/her baby teeth before going to the orthodontist. On the contrary, going before all your child’s baby teeth have been lost is advantageous. This allows for early identification of potential issues and, in some cases, more effective treatment outcomes because the jaw is still growing.
- You CAN visit the orthodontist as an adult! While there has been an influx of tooth aligners on the market aimed at adults who “can’t” be seen by an orthodontist, this purely a marketing ploy. While your treatment options may not be as robust as those of a child, you will be amazed at the plethora of options available to suit your needs.