Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have their first orthodontic evaluation by around the age of seven? Many parents and caregivers are confused when they learn that early examinations are an important part of maintaining their child’s oral health. After all, kids that age still have developing mouths and most of their baby teeth still in place. Why would they need to visit the orthodontist?
Here at Saddle Creek Orthodontics, we treat a number of young patients. That means we’ve seen firsthand how important early orthodontic evaluations are for helping children achieve a healthy and confident smile! They allow us to be proactive instead of reactive, which ensures kids get the specific orthodontic care they need at the most optimal time and allows us to achieve long-lasting results. We’ll often use braces or aligners for a period of time to correct teeth and jaw misalignment, create space for any developing teeth, and help the facial muscles develop normally.
These preventive measures are sometimes referred to as Phase I treatment. Most Phase I patients will eventually need Phase II treatment, which continues the stabilizing process by moving the teeth into their final optimal positions. This also tends to require orthodontic appliances to finalize the bite correction and achieve a beautiful smile. Whether you have a young child in need of Phase I treatment, a teen ready for Phase II, or want to learn more about orthodontics for a child of any age, here’s a look at why summer is one of the best times for braces!
Appointments are easier to schedule (and attend)
Our schedules tend to fill up pretty quickly when school is in session, so summer is often ideal for all kinds of appointments, including orthodontic ones. Your child’s initial consultation will usually take about an hour, as this gives us plenty of time to do an exam and talk you through any diagnosis and treatment plan. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask any questions and discuss any concerns you have. You won’t feel pressed for time and there’s no worry about your child missing any classes!
Getting braces put on takes an hour or two for most patients, including time spent cleaning and drying the teeth so brackets can be fixed to the front of them. Like your child’s consultation, this appointment will last a bit longer than usual. But by the time the first day of school rolls around again, it’ll be smooth sailing with nothing more than quick checkups every 4-8 weeks or so! During these visits, Dr. Fagala will check the movement of the teeth, make sure everything is proceeding according to the treatment plan, and make any necessary adjustments to the braces.
Extra time to adjust
We’ve seen some amazing progress in orthodontics in the last several years, but at the end of the day, it’s still about moving teeth. That process can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially in the beginning. Starting orthodontic treatment in the summer gives kids and teens a little extra time to hide out at home as they adjust to having braces.
Braces require adjustments, and not just the kind Dr. Fagala makes. Patients will have to be more careful about how they brush and floss their teeth, and will also have some dietary restrictions to get used to. Foods that are crunchy or chewy should be avoided as they can damage the brackets and wires. That means steering clear of snacks like popcorn, chips, and several kinds of candy, among other things. When you don’t have early mornings, homework, and extracurriculars to deal with, you and your child can devote a little more time to these new routines!
Take advantage of natural growth spurts
Believe it or not, there’s some good old-fashioned science involved in us saying summer is the best time to begin orthodontic treatment. We know that the most optimal time for straightening teeth is during their maximum growth period. Children go through many growth spurts, and then go into a “rest period” until the next spurt. Studies have shown that these growth spurts actually tend to happen most during the summer!
Researchers are still studying the exact reason for this, but it seems likely that it involves the pituitary gland responding to the longer days and increased temperature. Whatever the exact cause, summer presents the perfect opportunity to help move teeth as easily and effectively as possible.
Keep cool treats on the menu
We can’t officially recommend a daily diet of ice cream, but we will say it makes a perfect menu item for summertime! Ice cream, smoothies, and frozen yogurt are all on the list of orthodontist-approved foods for braces patients. They aren’t just cool treats that can take the edge off a hot day—the soft texture can soothe sore teeth and gums after braces are put on, or following adjustment appointments.
Don’t feel guilty for offering special treats like these to your favorite braces patient! Just make sure to keep an eye on their oral hygiene routine, which is especially important during the treatment process. Increased sugar in the diet combined with new braces can be tricky if your child isn’t brushing and flossing thoroughly. Remind them to rinse with water frequently after eating and drinking, especially anything sugary, as this will help wash away stray food particles and bacteria. They should also be brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and flossing every night before bed. If they’re having trouble navigating around the brackets and wires, tools like ortho picks and oral irrigators can make it easier to clean those hard to reach areas. This will help prevent cavities and gingivitis, ensuring your child’s smile is both straighter and healthier when their braces eventually come off!
Give your child the gift of a straighter smile this summer with SCO
The long days of summer are free from many of the stresses that we have to work around during the school year. That makes it one of the best times of the year to take the first step towards a healthier, more confident smile for your child! Dr. Fagala and the rest of our team are here to help you both get started. We work hard to provide you and your family with a fun, stress-free, and rewarding experience from the first appointment to the last.
If you’re here in Memphis or the Mid-South and have a child who is ready for an orthodontic evaluation or treatment, get in touch! We’d love to schedule you for a FREE consultation with Dr. Fagala. For your convenience, we’re now offering virtual consultations and exams, as well as in-office visits. Your child’s best, brightest smile is just one call away!