There are many important reasons to visit an orthodontist. Most people associate orthodontics with braces for straightening teeth. Providing a great smile is only one of the many benefits orthodontists offer to their patients. Here are some other important reasons for seeing an orthodontist.

Preventative Care

Dentists will often refer young children to an orthodontist if they notice any teeth or jaw problems. An orthodontist is a dentist who has an additional 2-3 years of training beyond a general dentist and specializes in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. Your orthodontist will often be able to identify problems that your general dentist is not trained to recognize. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children see an orthodontist before the age of 7 to look for any abnormalities or potential problems whether or not they have been referred by a general dentist. Treatment can be much easier, less expensive or even avoided if problems are identified early.  Most importantly, it is important that children are screened by an orthodontist by the age of 7 in order to identify and address a potential problem before it becomes too severe to easily correct or even prevent.

Abnormal Bite

A bite is considered normal when the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth by no more than 1-2 mm. If the top teeth overlap more than that or the bottom teeth overlap the top teeth, then the bite is considered abnormal. Bite problems conflict with chewing and teeth alignment, and can lead to other problems if not corrected.

Crowding or Spacing Issues

Crowding and spacing issues often occur as children transition from having baby teeth to having adult teeth. Either from losing baby teeth too quickly or not quickly enough, the adult teeth often grow in overlapping, protruding, or unevenly spaced. This can make brushing and flossing more difficult, and can also cause bite abnormalities and other issues. By identifying crowding issues early, they can be easily treated. Often, baby teeth are taken out too early which can cause spacing problems. Before you allow your general dentist to extract any baby teeth, an orthodontist should be consulted to confirm that the timing is correct and that early extraction will not cause future problems.

Breaking Bad Habits

Thumb-sucking, teeth grinding, and tongue thrusting are some examples of habits that have negative consequences on the teeth and jaws. Some of them are subconscious, like night-time teeth grinding, while others are more evident. Speech impediments and lisps can also indicate that these habits exist. An orthodontist is prepared to help with these habits by offering habit-breaking appliances, such as a mouth-guard.

A Great Smile

One of the most common reasons for seeking orthodontic care is to get a more attractive smile. Not only does having properly-aligned teeth offer a physical benefit, but many people report an emotional benefit as well. Self-confidence and a better sense of self-worth are great side-effects of seeking orthodontic care and improving the health of your teeth and jaws.