Lola Sneddon sees Dr. Bryan Brassington for her orthodontic work.
Lola Sneddon was 8 years old when her dentist, Dr. Al Stenger, diagnosed her as having a cross bite that needed to be corrected, but her family waited until her permanent teeth came in before moving forward with braces.
"Last July, she got braces on her upper teeth," says Lola's mother, Barbara Sneddon. "She was then due to have a palate expander placed on her upper teeth to widen her upper arch, and this would have stayed on for six months. However, she had made great progress with the work of the braces and was able to skip that step."
Although braces in the past were associated more with teenage years than with elementary school, the American Association of Orthodontics suggests that patients be seen at 7 or 8 years of age, says Dr. Paul White, of White Orthodontics near Short Pump.
White says that orthodontic treatment helps with the growth and development of young patients' teeth. "We like to see [children] as early as we can, so if there are any problems, we can catch them early," he says.
Lola's family and dental care providers opted for braces when they did because her palate was still pliable, Sneddon says, adding that her daughter, who turns 10 in July, had them removed in May and now wears a retainer.
Pediatric dentists consider whether orthodontics can improve the way a patient's mouth functions — such as how teeth fit together, biting and chewing — or improve aesthetics, says Dr. Elizabeth Miller, a dentist with Atkins, Maestrello, Miller and Associates on Gaskins Road.
"Pediatric dentists see children every six months for regular cleanings [and] checkups," Miller says. "At that time, we are able to evaluate how the child's teeth fit together and whether or not we would recommend orthodontics."
White also notes that his practice is seeing adults as well as children and adolescents. Sometimes parents of his younger patients will ask him to look at their teeth. Often, he adds, adults get braces to correct earlier orthodontic work.