By: Dr. Tommy Griffin
Splash pads, summer camps, sleepovers, sunny days, starry nights and braces—yes, braces.
When summer is in full swing, so are your kids, but planning important checkups and getting a head start on your kids’ oral health should be on your summer itinerary too.
As an orthodontist, and a parent myself, I understand how demanding the school year can be. It’s not easy to drive kids back and forth from orthodontic appointments and there’s the additional worry of them potentially falling behind on classwork or jeopardizing the finals exemption attendance policy because of the time commitment. To alleviate some of that pressure, I often recommend parents use their kids’ open summer schedules to set up an initial orthodontic appointment. Planning around barbecues and days at the lake may be easier than planning around algebra tests and band competitions.
Kids who mouth breathe, thumb suck, grind teeth, have early or delayed loss of baby teeth or demonstrate speech difficulties might be showing early signs of an improper tooth or jaw development, and could especially benefit from an early consult with an orthodontic specialist. It’s recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists that parent’s take their kids to their first orthodontist visit by age 7 as issues with baby teeth can adversely influence the eruption of adult teeth. Also, early signs of malocclusion (how the teeth fit together) may be identified sooner, allowing orthodontists to take initial steps to improve a child’s bite and ready both child and parent for any treatment that may be needed in the future
No matter what time of year your child gets braces, producing a beautiful smile has some work involved for both parents and patients, and the treatment routine will need to be worked into your summer plans. If you have any upcoming vacations, be sure to pack extra wax in your suitcase for any wires that may start poking while you’re out of town. You should also notify your orthodontist of the dates you’ll be gone so they can make every effort to ensure your child has an enjoyable summer while still making progress during these valuable months.
If your child has finished treatment by the time summer rolls around, their retainer should be a top priority on any summer camp visits or other trips. Help your kiddos follow your orthodontist’s instructions to get the maximum benefit out of their retainer and most importantly, maintain the beautiful smile they worked so hard to get. Most retainers are removable, and therefore, losable, so make sure kids get into the habit of putting their retainers back into the case provided whenever it’s out of their mouth—even if it is just for a few minutes during an ice cream break. When retainers disappear or are not used properly, teeth can move which may result in having to start the repositioning process over again.
So this summer, plan ahead because summertime should be full of smiles.
About Dr. Tommy Griffin and the Oklahoma Orthodontic Society
Dr. Tommy Griffin is a member of the Oklahoma Orthodontic Society and the American Association of Orthodontists. The Oklahoma Orthodontic Society is a chapter of the American Association of Orthodontists, which is committed to educating the public about the need for, and benefits of, orthodontic treatment and choosing an orthodontist for your care. An orthodontist is a specialist and must complete two-to-three years of additional schooling beyond dental school at an accredited residency program to achieve this distinction. To find an orthodontist in your area, visit oklahomabraces.org.