Brought to you by Orthodontics Australia and Digital Parents Collective
If you’ve got kids, then you will have teeth issues. No, not just gritting them when you get up for the third time in one night, or when the toast triangles your toddler asked for weren’t square enough. I’m not talking about teething either – that’s a whole other issue!
I’m talking about making sure your kids grow up to have beautiful strong healthy teeth. A confident, happy smile with straight teeth is a great asset! Confidence is one of the best gifts we can equip our children with.
A lot of dental issues are down to genetics (I am so glad Boyo got the Welshman’s straight teeth!). Some of it is down to parenting decisions. Thumb sucking and dummy use can affect the way teeth grow in. Using bottles for too long or overnight can bathe the teeth in juice or milk so cavities form.
For those who have genetic predispositions to wonky teeth (like, ahem, me!), you need a dental specialist. Orthodontists and dentists work to improve your family’s dental health, but orthodontists have additional specialist training – another three years worth of it. Specialising in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental irregularities, orthodontists make beautiful smiles by helping to correctly align teeth, bites and jaws.
- I’m going to share a few tips and tricks on how to care for your children’s teeth, right from the word go.
- I’m also going to talk about the signs you need to be on the look out for when you might need specialist orthodontic help.
First up though, a little chat about Boyo’s dental history. This kid started teething at 11 weeks. Yes, I’m serious. He got his first teeth just shy of 4 months, and every single one of them has been a hard fought battle.
He cut 26 teeth, despite only having 20. His poor little gums swelled up so much that he had to recut quite a few! He used to cut them in batches, and got a fungal bottom every single time from all that extra acidic saliva.
His teething even caused me to lose my milk when his swollen gums caused the loss of his latch. He had it right from the first breastfeed so it was something very new for me to deal with, 6 months down the track.
He had a full set of baby teeth by the time he was 20 months old – including the dreaded two year molars. In his first year of primary school, he lost several teeth. The first one got swallowed and the second one got lost somewhere between his teacher wrapping it up in his lunchbox and school pickup. For those new to the Tooth Fairy parents, the going rate is $2 plus $5 for your first tooth. Although you’ll always hear about the kid who gets $20 per lost tooth.
You know how you repeat yourself to your kids all the time? No wonder they don’t listen – they’re bored! Boyo was running inside a restaurant and just as I was saying “no running, you’ll knock your front teeth out”, he fell over, smacked his face on a wooden stair and nearly knocked his front teeth out.
Luckily, his teeth were OK. They were slightly pushed back but the emergency doctor was able to realign them. The flappy bit of gum he tore off the bone had to heal on its own. *shudder* The dentist gave him the all clear, and we anxiously awaited his adult teeth to grow in to get the further all clear.
He’s been visiting a dentist ever since he was a toddler, and we’ve always been very strict about dental hygiene. Now that he’s a tweenager, with all of his adult teeth through before he was 11, we are even more strict about dental hygiene. Both the Welshman and I have scheduled checkups and cleans every six months – we like to lead by example.
Those teeth have to last him another 90 years or so, after all!
His dentist has an interest in orthodontics, but is not an orthodontist. He has noted that he might need some help in the future, depending on changes that may occur as his jawline develops.
Orthodontics Australia | did you know?
Orthodontics Australia (also known as the ASO – Australian Society of Orthodontists) is the peak body for orthodontists and orthodontic knowledge across Australia.
The ASO assists the public, patients and prospective patients to understand their treatment options, find out what to expect before, during and after treatment and find a registered specialist orthodontist
- did you know that kids should have an orthodontic assessment between the age of 7 to 10?
- did you know that you don’t need a referral to see an orthodontist?
- did you know that some orthodontic problems can be easily corrected when treated early?
As most Australian parents don’t know a lot about orthodontics, don’t panic if your answer was a big fat no. You’re definitely not alone!
Take me as your example. Here I was feeling quite, well let’s be honest, smug that I had done “all the right things” in terms of my son’s dental health. We had weaned off him his dummy as a baby. We’ve been fierce about brushing since his first toothy pegs emerged. We didn’t put him to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. He regularly flosses and uses mouthwash (OK, not every day – he is an 11 year old boy after all). He has cleans and checkups every six months.
Plus, I took him to get an orthodontic assessment when he was 10. Winning at parenting, right?
Well, I thought I had had an orthodontic assessment for my son. However, after having a chat with Dr Robbie Schwartz, spokesman for Orthodontics Australia, I realised my error. My dentist had an interest in orthodontics, but isn’t an orthodontist. He’s not a specialist who has undergone the additional three full years of orthodontic training that orthodontists are required to.
Now, my dentist hasn’t done anything wrong. He hasn’t stated he’s an orthodontist, just that he has an interest in orthodontics. But see how easily even a parent who had done their homework was fooled?
Why would I want my dentist to do orthodontic work? Wouldn’t you want the most qualified person to undertake work that requires an extra three years of training? Dr Schwartz even told me that often times his fees are cheaper than those of dentists. It’s a no brainer right?
Dental Health Plan for Kids
I’m here to help you set your dental health plan by giving you some tips, thanks to Orthodontics Australia.
take care of baby teeth
- they act as guides for the adult teeth
- establishing healthy dental habits with baby teeth encourages healthy adult teeth habits
- after the front adult teeth have emerged can affect teeth and upper jaw development.
- try and break this habit before 5 or 6 years old.
- if diagnosed, an orthodontist is an essential part of the treatment team
- start brushing with a super soft brush as soon as baby teeth emerge
- use age appropriate toothpaste – generally from the age of 2
- start flossing as soon as two teeth touch each other
- brush in the morning and at night
- teeth should be brushed in an up and down motion
- use a sand timer to monitor two minutes brushing time
- gentle, gentle, gentle!
- your child should see a dentist before their first birthday
- it’s important to have a plan in place for dental health that goes beyond simple brushing, flossing, rinsing
- get an orthodontic assessment from an orthodontist around the ages of 7 to 10 including X rays for base line reference (early intervention in some cases can save a lot of time, effort and money in the teenage years)
- schedule six monthly checkups and cleans
- Utilise the Find An Orthodontist tool on the Orthodontics Australia website
8 signs your child may need to see an orthodontist
- early, late or irregular loss of baby teeth
- difficulty in chewing or biting
- mouth breathing
- protruding teeth
- thumb sucking beyond the age of 5
- underbite or overbite
- crowded, crooked or misplaced teeth
- jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face
Don’t just grin and bear it – if you’re not happy with your adult smile, an Orthodontics Australia orthodontist can help you too. It’s never too late to invest in a beautiful smile!