Orthodontists specialize in treating misaligned teeth and improving the symmetry of the face. Unfortunately, many of us don’t think about visiting an orthodontist unless we have an accident or a dentist insists. The truth is there are some very good reasons to visit the orthodontist yourself and even take your kids early in life. At Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, TX, we can treat adults and children for a wide variety of orthodontic issues.
6 Top Reasons to Visit an Orthodontist
1. You Struggle to Clean Your Teeth Effectively
If you find that all the brushing and flossing in the world just doesn’t seem to be working, or if your dentist is constantly admonishing you to floss when you know you already do, the trouble might be that your teeth are overcrowded. This is a dental problem where the teeth come in slightly crooked, so while you may not have a noticeable misalignment when you smile, there isn’t actually enough space between each tooth for your brush or floss to reach.
When the teeth are crowded in this way, you start to experience calculus deposition and gum problems from a buildup of bacteria. If you never had braces as a young person, it’s likely because your parents were told your teeth weren’t coming in so crookedly that your jaw or bite would be misaligned. That’s great: but the teeth can still come in crooked enough to cause crowding, and orthodontic care can help. It’s never too late to fix the problem!
2. You or Your Child Have a Protruding Tooth
Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you, and we all deserve to have a strong and confident smile. Unfortunately, too many people find themselves hiding that smile because of protruding teeth. Protrusion of the teeth is not just an aesthetic problem, either. The protruding tooth is sticking out alone and is in greater danger of trauma and chipping than the rest.
A protruding tooth is easiest to adjust if you get to it during puberty, but whatever age you are, as soon as you notice a protruding tooth in yourself or your child, come see us and get help. This type of tooth problem can indicate abnormal growth in the jaws or it could be a one-off, but either way, your mouth will be healthier and you’ll be happier with a smooth, even smile.
3. You Want to Enjoy Good Health
Did you know that the health of your mouth and gums is intimately tied to your overall physical health and strength? Tooth infections and periodontal disease, or disease of the gums, are much harder to avoid when your teeth are misaligned and your daily cleaning isn’t as effective as it should be. These issues increase your risk of heart disease over time. They have also been linked to an increased risk of kidney, blood, and pancreatic cancer, as well as respiratory problems.
A Simple Example
Say you didn’t have a wisdom tooth taken out when you were younger. It is not really fully erupted, but it is not causing any big problems, either. What you may not realize is that its partial eruption has created a small pocket where food gets trapped and bacteria forms and sends infection to your bloodstream.
Sometimes your brushing and flossing get it cleaned out, but sometimes they don’t. You keep experiencing small bacterial infections from that pocket, and even if they’re not acutely painful, they are forcing your immune system to fight infection over and over again. When you’re exposed to routine cold or flu germs, you have a harder time fighting back because you’re already fighting infection.
4. You Want to Give Your Children the Best Start in Life
Most people think of orthodontics as something for teens, but there’s a lot your orthodontist can do for your children even from the earliest ages.
Many toddlers develop para-functional habits like sucking their thumb and thrusting their tongue between their teeth. Nearly every child does something like this, and most children will just stop on their own some time between the ages of two and four. The problem comes when a child keeps up the habit beyond this age. Thumb sucking can keep the jaw from growing normally or cause teeth to be misaligned. Children who practice tongue thrusting can end up with an open bite or crossbite.
At Ragan Orthodontics, we can fit your child with a thumb crib appliance, which attaches to the upper teeth and keeps the child from getting their fingers in behind the teeth. This takes away the calming feeling that keeps kids sucking their thumb, so they willingly give up the habit on their own.
If you prefer, we can offer a thumb guard instead. This simple plastic device goes on the hand, contains no chemicals that could harm your child, and still allows them to put their thumb in their mouth. It just makes it impossible for them to get suction on the thumb, which means they don’t get the soothing feeling and will give up the habit.
Early orthodontic intervention can give your child a lifetime of better oral health and can even prevent more intensive, uncomfortable, and expensive treatments when they reach the teenage years. By the age of seven, your child’s mouth is developed enough that we can see how the permanent teeth are going to emerge and what can be done to make that process as easy as possible. We can fit your child with a palate expander, for example, which slowly and gently moves the mouth apart and allows plenty of room for developing teeth.
At this age, we can identify whether any bite problems are starting and begin guiding the growth of the jaw and the new emerging teeth to create a pleasing, perfectly aligned arrangement of the teeth and jaw. Even if your child does need braces or aligners later, this early intervention normally means it won’t take as long or be nearly as expensive to fix the issues.
The teen years are when your child can best benefit from braces or aligners that straighten their teeth and give them that perfect smile they’ll enjoy for life. During these years, the teeth and jaw are developed enough to start final alignment treatment but not so set that the treatment is difficult. Also, teens are typically mature enough to handle braces or other alignment choices.
The metal braces you remember from years ago have changed a lot in recent years. Our metal braces are a great option for teens and tweens: affordable, fast, and strong. We also have other braces options and the extremely discreet Invisalign Teen aligner option that might work for your teen depending on their dental issues, lifestyle, and maturity, so come talk to us about the options.
5. Your Wisdom Teeth (or Your Child’s) Aren’t Perfect
The wisdom teeth tend to erupt in during the teen years or the early 20s. They don’t always have to come out, especially if they’re healthy, fully erupted, in the right position, and capable of being cleaned. Unfortunately, many times they remain hidden within the gums, emerge only partially, or crowd the nearby teeth. When they’re hidden, they can cause infections or cysts. Partially erupted teeth create passageways for bacteria to reach your bloodstream. Crowding can damage the nearby teeth and make cleaning difficult or impossible.
Don’t ignore wisdom teeth just because they’re not causing you or your teen pain right now. They may not be hurting you at this moment, but it’s possible they could cause serious issues later if they’re not taken care of. We can look at your teeth and x-rays and help you identify and take care of any wisdom tooth issues before they become serious.
6. You’re Displeased With Your Smile
Some of us never had braces because we genuinely didn’t need them. But some of us didn’t have them only because our parents couldn’t afford it or it didn’t seem like our teeth were “that bad.” But your teeth can actually continue to move in unhealthy ways even into adulthood, and even minor tooth crowding can give you a crooked smile and make it much more likely you’ll develop gum disease later because teeth can’t be cleaned effectively. You can even develop jaw misalignment issues later in life.
All you have to do to get started with us to take three selfies, with a broad smile, from three angles and send them to us! We’ll do a smile assessment and let you know if things could be better. It’s never too late to straighten that smile, and while traditional metal braces are always a fast and economical option, we can also offer other options that many adults prefer:
These work just like metal braces, but they are completely translucent. They blend in with your teeth so you don’t have that “metal mouth” look that keeps many adults from seeking effective treatment. Our NeoLucent Plus ™ line of ceramic braces are also stain-resistant, so they won’t discolor. These are the perfect option for someone concerned about their appearance but who needs to solve a more serious misalignment issue.
Invisalign are clear aligners that guide your teeth into the right position. You first have your mouth scanned, and then the aligners are made to fit you perfectly. When you receive your set of aligners, you wear each one for at least 22 hours a day for two weeks before moving on to the next one in the set. Each week, your teeth are being gradually moved into a healthier position.
What makes Invisalign so popular is that they’re virtually invisible, they require fewer adjustments, and they can be removed whenever you eat and brush your teeth. There’s no need to restrict food choices and brushing your teeth won’t be any different from normal. For most people, it will take between six and 15 months to fix the teeth with Invisalign.
About Dr. Michael Ragan
Dr. Michael Ragan is a Dallas native, a graduate of local primary and high schools, and got his undergrad degree at Baylor College of Dentistry. His post-graduate training comes from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, where he is still a frequent guest lecturer. Dr. Ragan has been passionate about giving people healthy smiles for more than 20 years now and has built a practice and a professional team that offer everyone in Dallas the best state-of-the-art orthodontic care possible.
Time to Visit the Orthodontist?
These are just a few of the good reasons to consider visiting us. Whether it’s time to bring your child or you’re concerned about your own oral health and the state of your smile, contact Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, TX today to find out what we can do for you. We have a treatment that can help you!