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Celebrating National Children's Dental Health Month

Celebrating National Children's Dental Health Month


February is not just a month of love and cold weather; it’s also National Children’s Dental Health Month. This annual celebration emphasizes the importance of dental health for our children, including early orthodontic care. Our kids’ dental health is crucial—it affects how they eat, speak, and even how they feel about themselves.

In this article, we will explore the importance of proper oral care and outline essential steps for parents, including why an orthodontic evaluation should be considered. By focusing on preventative care and early intervention, we can help our children have strong, healthy teeth.

Let’s dive in and lay the groundwork for some healthy dental habits that will benefit our children for the rest of their lives!

The Importance of Early Dental Care

Caring for your child’s teeth from an early age is crucial. Complete oral care is more than dental hygiene and cleanings. Orthodontic exams are also part of it, since they can help identify misalignments, bite problems, and other dental health issues that can be corrected more easily and with less invasive methods, if caught early.

Early orthodontic care can also impact a child’s quality of life. It can improve their ability to chew and speak, enhance their appearance, and boost their self-esteem. Children with healthy teeth are more likely to engage in social situations, participate in activities, and perform better in school. (Source: American Association of Orthodontists).

Common Orthodontic Issues in Children

Orthodontic issues vary widely among children. However, early identification and treatment can make a big difference. Here are some of the most common orthodontic problems we see:

  1. Crowding: This occurs when there isn’t enough space in the jaw for all of the teeth to fit normally. Crowding can make oral hygiene more challenging, resulting in tooth decay and gum disease.
  2. Spacing: Spacing occurs when there’s too much room in the jaw, leading to gaps between the teeth. It can affect the appearance of the smile and how the teeth function.
  3. Overbite: An overbite is when the upper front teeth protrude far beyond the lower front teeth. Severe overbites can cause chewing and biting difficulties. They may even contribute to wear and tear of the teeth.
  4. Underbite: An underbite is when the lower front teeth extend beyond the upper front teeth. It can affect the child’s ability to chew properly and may lead to jaw pain.
  5. Crossbite: A crossbite occurs when some of the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth when the mouth is closed. It can lead to uneven wear of the teeth, gum disease, and bone loss.
  6. Open Bite: An open bite is when there’s a noticeable gap between the upper and lower teeth while the back teeth bite together. It can make it difficult to bite or chew food and sometimes result in speech impediments.

When to Schedule an Orthodontic Evaluation

Choosing the right time for an orthodontic evaluation is critical to your child’s dental health. The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that children should see an orthodontist for the first time by age 7. Why so early? The reason is simple: at this age, children usually have a mix of baby and permanent teeth, making it easier for orthodontists to spot any issues with how the jaw is growing or the teeth are coming in.

Going for an evaluation doesn’t always mean your child will start treatment immediately. Instead, it’s about checking if any problems need to be watched or treated later. 

Here’s what to expect during that first visit:

  • Thorough Check-Up: The orthodontist will closely examine your child’s teeth and jaws and how they bite together. They might use X-rays or digital scans to get a detailed view of their teeth and bones.
  • Understanding Potential Issues: If the orthodontist finds anything that might need treatment, they’ll explain what they found, discuss possible treatment plans, and suggest the best steps to take next. Sometimes, they’ll suggest waiting and watching how your child’s teeth and jaw develop before deciding on treatment.
  • Learning About Treatment Options: The orthodontist will discuss available methods if treatment is needed. Depending on your child’s needs, this could include traditional braces or newer options like clear aligners.

Taking your child for an orthodontic evaluation by the recommended age is a positive step for their oral health. It’s an investment in their future that helps to ensure they not only have a beautiful smile, but a healthy one, too!

Orthodontic Treatments for Children

When it comes to children, orthodontic treatment not only aims to create a beautiful smile but also to develop the proper functioning of their teeth and jaws. Here’s a brief overview of the most common orthodontic treatments available today:

  1. Traditional Braces: Traditional metal braces consist of brackets attached to the teeth, connected by wires. They are highly effective at correcting a wide range of alignment issues. Nowadays, braces can be more appealing to children, with options to customize the color of the bands.
  2. Ceramic Braces: Similar to metal braces, ceramic braces use clear or tooth-colored brackets for a less noticeable appearance. They offer a cosmetic alternative to metal braces while providing the same effectiveness in treating orthodontic issues.
  3. Invisalign for Teens: A more recent innovation, Invisalign offers a nearly invisible way to straighten teeth using a series of custom-made, clear aligners. These aligners are removable, making it easier to eat, brush, and floss. They need to be changed every few weeks to gradually move the teeth into the desired position.
  4. Palatal Expanders: For children whose jaws are too narrow, palatal expanders can widen the upper jaw so the upper and lower teeth fit together better. This device is most effective before the child’s jaw growth is complete.

Recent advancements have made orthodontic treatments more comfortable and tailored to individual needs. The treatment choice will depend on the specific issues being addressed, the child’s age, and their parents’ preferences.

More Tips for Parents

Your child’s dental health requires a collaborative effort among the orthodontist, your child, and you. Here are some practical tips to help maintain your child’s oral health and support their journey through orthodontic treatment:

  1. Emphasize Good Oral Hygiene: Teach your child the importance of brushing twice each day and flossing daily. If your child has braces, consider using specialized cleaning tools like orthodontic toothbrushes or flossers designed for braces to remove plaque and food particles effectively.
  2. Promote a Teeth-friendly Diet: Limit sugary foods and drinks, which can lead to tooth decay, especially around orthodontic appliances. Encourage a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and calcium-rich foods to support dental health and overall well-being.
  3. Wear Protective Gear for Sports: If your child is involved in sports, make sure they wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth and orthodontic appliances from damage. Ask your orthodontist about custom-fitted mouthguards for better protection and comfort.
  4. Regular Dental Check-ups: Continue with regular dental check-ups, even during orthodontic treatment. These visits are crucial for spotting potential issues early and keeping your child’s teeth healthy.
  5. Encourage Compliance with Orthodontic Treatment: Follow the orthodontist’s instructions regarding the wear and care of braces or aligners. Remind your child about the importance of wearing elastics or retainers as prescribed to achieve the best results.
  6. Educate About the Treatment Process: Help your child understand what to expect during their orthodontic treatment, including possible discomfort and the importance of maintaining appointments. Knowing what to expect can reduce anxiety and increase cooperation.
  7. Celebrate Milestones: Orthodontic treatment can take quite some time, so celebrate the milestones! Acknowledge the progress and improvements, no matter how small, to keep your child motivated and optimistic about their treatment.

By following these tips, you can play an essential role in ensuring the success of your child’s orthodontic treatment and fostering a healthy dental routine that lasts a lifetime. Remember, a healthy smile is a team effort; your support and encouragement are invaluable!


As we conclude our celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month, let’s remember our crucial role in safeguarding our children’s dental health. From understanding the significance of early dental care to recognizing common orthodontic issues, we’ve covered the essentials to help you navigate your child’s dental health journey.

We encourage parents to prioritize their child’s dental health and seek professional evaluations when necessary. Whether scheduling that first orthodontic evaluation or keeping up with regular dental check-ups, each step is an investment in your child’s future. When in doubt, schedule a free consultation with our TenBrook team, and we'll give you the best recommendations for your child's oral health.

Celebrating Children’s Dental Health Month is an excellent reminder that the commitment to our children’s dental health is a year-round responsibility. Here’s to healthy smiles, healthy habits, and a healthier future for all our children!

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