Does My Child Really Need to See an Orthodontist at 7?

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Guest Blogger, Dr. Sam Polan

Excerpt: Why schedule a first orthodontic visit at age 7? The American Association of Orthodontics recommends children visit an orthodontist for the first time by the age of 7. But why is that?

When you think of someone in braces, chances are you probably picture a teenager, right? But did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see the orthodontist for the first time at the age of seven?

“Seven seems young to a lot of parents, but it’s important that children see an orthodontist for the first time around this age,” says Dr. Sam Polan of Tuckahoe Family Orthodontics. “Most children won’t need braces at the age of 7, but for those that do, early treatment can make a big difference. Even if no treatment is needed, beginning a relationship with an orthodontist at this age can ensure that if and when braces or other treatment are needed in the future, the treatment is started at the ideal time to achieve the best results.”

Dr. Polan offers some other reasons why parents of children around age 7 should schedule orthodontic consultations.

  1. Orthodontists can identify subtle problems with dental development and jaw growth that you, or even your child’s primary care dentist, might not notice. An orthodontist will check to make sure emerging permanent teeth are developing properly, and that the jaws are growing the way they should. If any problems are noted, your orthodontist will tell you whether it is something that is best treated now, or if it can wait. Certain problems can be managed more effectively if identified and treated earlier in development, so it’s important to have an orthodontist check how your child’s mouth is progressing while the jaw is still growing, and when there is a mix of baby and permanent teeth.
  2. A consultation may reveal that everything looks great, but it could reveal an emerging problem that will need treatment now or in the future. By monitoring your child’s development, your orthodontist will be able to begin treatment at the best time to achieve the most healthy and properly functioning smile he or she can.
  3. When indicated, early treatment may actually save you time and money. Treating certain orthodontic issues when they first emerge can actually prevent more serious problems from occurring. In many cases, early treatment can make later treatment (when all the baby teeth are gone) shorter and less complicated. In some cases, it can be avoided completely. Early treatment for certain patients may allow the orthodontist to achieve results that otherwise wouldn’t be possible at a later stage of development.
  4. A timely first visit to the orthodontist gives you the best opportunity to guide the growth of your child’s jaws, address potentially harmful oral habits such as thumbsucking, which can progressively worsen the bite and become harder to correct if not addressed in a timely manner.
  5. Consultations are free to you. Most orthodontists, Dr. Polan included, offer a free consultation. While most kids won’t need treatment at their first visit if seen at age 7, it’s always important to have an evaluation done, so most orthodontists offer a free consultation to make this visit easy and stress-free.

“Every orthodontist’s goal is to give his or her patients a beautiful and healthy functioning smile,” says Dr. Polan. “To ensure this happens, we need to be able to recommend the appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time. Beginning a relationship with an orthodontist at the age of 7 allows us to do that, and gives your child the best opportunity at a healthy, great-looking smile.”

Sam-Polan-OrthodontistAbout Dr. Sam Polan

Dr. Sam Polan is an experienced and passionate orthodontic expert treating patients in the Tuckahoe, NY area. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Dr. Polan went on to Columbia University, where he earned his D.D.S. degree and an M.S. degree in Orthodontics. He is dedicated to continuing his knowledge by seeking out the latest research and advances in the orthodontic world.

Dr. Polan provides the best in orthodontic treatment, from classic methods to state-of-the-art technology. His goal is to help every patient achieve his or her best smile. Dr. Polan works hard to provide expert level orthodontic care, while also making sure his patients have fun along the way.

What to Do If a Child Breaks a Tooth

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Guest blogger, Dr. Santiago Surillo

Injuries to the mouth are sometimes inevitable with children, so what should you do if your child chips or breaks a tooth? 

At some point, you may experience an injury to one of your child’s teeth. A hard fall, an injury while playing a sport, or crunching down on a piece of hard candy or ice can lead to chipped or broken teeth. Do you know what you should do if this happens?

“If a tooth is fractured or broken, whether it is a permanent tooth or a baby tooth, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your dentist right away,” says San Diego orthodontist and pediatric dentist Dr. Santiago Surillo. “Many parents mistakenly believe that if an injury occurs to a baby tooth, they can ignore it since the tooth will fall out eventually anyway. But, that is just not the case – your child’s baby teeth serve an important role and should be repaired just as a permanent tooth would be.”

Once a tooth has been chipped, cracked or broken, it leaves a space where bacteria can enter. Once bacteria enters into the crack, it can travel to the pulp or nerve of the tooth, causing pain and infection, and can lead to the need for a root canal.

If your child has broken a tooth, follow these steps:

  1. Schedule an appointment with your dentist right away so the dentist can assess the damage and repair the tooth before more damage occurs.
  2. Rinse your child’s mouth with water to clean the area, and inspect the mouth to be sure there are no pieces of tooth stuck in the gums, lips or tongue.
  3. If an injury to the mouth occurred, place a cold compress on the face to reduce swelling.
  4. If you can find the piece of broken tooth, place it in a glass of milk to preserve it and bring it with you to the dentist’s office. In some cases, the broken piece can simply be reattached.

If a baby tooth is knocked out completely, don’t attempt to place the tooth back in your child’s mouth. Doing so could cause damage to the permanent teeth still in the gum behind it. Your dentist will be able to determine the proper steps to take to ensure there is no damage to the permanent tooth and help manage any pain and prevent infection from setting in.

If a permanent tooth is knocked out, avoid touching the root of the tooth. Gently rinse it in cold water, and place it back in the tooth socket. Have your child bite down gently on clean gauze and seek out dental care immediately. A permanent tooth has the best chance to survive after being knocked out if it is replanted right away.

If your child has a chip or crack in a tooth, your pediatric dentist will be able to determine the best way to properly treat it. If it is a baby tooth that is chipped, it may simply need to be smoothed and polished. If a front tooth is chipped, the dentist can smooth it and place a tooth-colored filling in the chipped area.

If a tooth has been broken completely, it may require either a filling or a crown to properly repair it. If more than half of the tooth is broken, it may expose the nerve, which will require immediate attention.

“The most important thing to do if your child damages a tooth is to schedule an appointment with the dentist as soon as possible,” says Dr. Surillo. “We can work to save as much of your child’s tooth as possible, and hopefully prevent the need for more extensive dental work. Waiting too long to repair a damaged tooth can lead to the need for a root canal, a crown when a filling may have been adequate, or even the need to pull the tooth.”

Dr-Santiago-SurilloAbout Dr. Santiago Surillo

San Diego Kids Dentist is Dr. Santiago Surillo’s website where you can find more information about children’s dentistry or orthodontics.

Dr. Surillo is a dual-trained specialist with certifications in both orthodontics and pediatric dentistry, giving him a unique advantage when treating children. He is a second-generation dentist, and is one of only a handful of dual-trained specialists in the area. Dr. Surillo has more than 20 years of experience treating children of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers.

Dr. Surillo is dedicated to achieving the best in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics, and his Master’s Thesis on Skeletal Jaw Classifications helped to redefine the modern diagnosis and treatment planning in children. His training and expertise in the treatment of dento-facial orthopedics helps him offer the best treatment available to both his pediatric dentistry and orthodontics patients.

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