Visiting the Orthodontist
Although a trip to the dentist is not among the most popular destinations for kids and even adults, it’s one of the most important steps in a child’s long-term oral health – and a healthy kid is something to smile about.
Likewise, a visit to the orthodontist around age seven is critical to treating a malocclusion, or condition in which the teeth and jaws do not meet correctly.
Dr. Deanne Schmidt, D.D.S., an orthodontist practicing in Algonquin and Cary, makes visiting the orthodontist much less frightening for her smallest patients with entertainment like hand-held video games and even a TV room.
The staff also decks out the office with seasonal themes, such as a summer luau, to set the stage for a fun visit.
Magic Number Seven
Two years old is the recommended age for a child to visit the dentist. Just as important, however, is a trip to the orthodontist, Schmidt said. “As your child nears the age of seven, you will notice that some primary teeth will have fallen out and the front teeth or permanent incisors will begin to erupt,” according to Schmidt.
“At age seven or earlier is when your child should first visit the orthodontist,” she added. “A malocclusion can be diagnosed by the orthodontist at this time.”
She explained that the first visit is the examination followed by orthodontic records, which include X-rays, photographs and impressions of a child’s teeth. An appointment to place braces lasts about an hour. The average length of treatment time is 18 to 20 months.
Why Malocclusions Happen
There are two general causes of malocclusion, Schmidt said. The first is genetic inheritance. Examples of this include a jaw that is too small for the teeth or permanent teeth that are missing.
The second is environmental factors, such as thumb sucking or mouth breathing, which not only affect the alignment of the teeth, but may also affect the proper growth and development of the jaws.
“For these reasons, I prefer to see children at approximately age seven in order to evaluate if a malocclusion exists and to discuss when the appropriate time to initiate treatment is,” she said.
No two patients are treated in the same exact way, Schmidt explained. “Some children require no immediate treatment,” she said. “Instead, they are placed on a recall and evaluated by the orthodontist after further growth and development has taken place. Other children require an early or interceptive phase of orthodontics at this age.”
Interceptive orthodontics, if needed, offers many benefits, including enhancing self-esteem by improving a child’s appearance with proper jaw alignment, reducing protrusion of teeth and addressing severely crowded teeth.
Schmidt added that orthodontics is for everyone, including special needs children, and has treated a variety of patients. She adds that adults pose some challenges to orthodontic treatment because their jaws and teeth are fully developed and difficult to modify. Technology, however, has made a lot of treatments easier and more aesthetic for adults.
Technology has been a major game changer in the practice of orthodontics. At Schmidt Orthodontics, “we are always striving to stay current in order to provide our patients with the most efficient and comfortable methods of achieving optimum orthodontic results,” Schmidt said.
For example, today, the wires are made of copper nickel titanium, which has shape memory that applies gentle, continuous, light pressure to the teeth. Archwires need to be adjusted and changed less frequently and are much more comfortable and efficient than previous methods.
Another new addition is digital photography and computer imaging, which Schmidt uses in both offices.
“Sophisticated computer technology aids doctors in diagnosing and formulating individualized treatment plans,” she explained. “It also allows the patient and parent to visualize the orthodontic problems and treatment benefits.”
Other improvements include clear ceramic brackets as a “crystal clear” alternative to metal braces; invisible retainers that use flex memory and a snap-in fit; Invisalign®, which uses 3-D computer technology to fabricate clear alignment that straightens teeth; and the Damon System, high-tech braces that use less friction and light forces for the treatment of severely cases of crowding.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who dedicates his or her profession to the exclusive management of problems associated with “crooked teeth and jaws.”
Orthodontists have completed dental school and go on to fulfill a two- to three-year full-time, university-based accredited orthodontic residency program.
“An early orthodontic evaluation can lead to a simpler, more effective treatment for your child or at least greater peace of mind,” Schmidt said.
Most orthodontists offer complimentary initial evaluations and don’t require a referral from a dentist, she said. “It’s recommended patients get two opinions to compare treatment philosophies and fees,” Schmidt said. Schmidt Orthodontics offers interest-free financing.
When searching for a local orthodontic specialist in your town, visit the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) at www.braces.org.
When deciding on an orthodontist, look for a “professional, caring, compassionate [doctor] with good communication with the parent, patient and general dentist,” she recommended. “[Look for a] practice that focuses on the patient’s individual needs and delivers excellent care and results.”
Sidebar: About Dr. Schmidt
Dr. Deanne Schmidt received her bachelor’s degree from Loyola University in 1985 and Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from University of Illinois in 1989. In 1992, she received her post-graduate orthodontic residency from the University of Pennsylvania and practiced orthodontics in Northbrook and Glenview, Ill., from 1992 to 1993. She opened a private practice in Algonquin in 1993 and her Cary office in 2006.
She has a number of affiliations, including the American Association of Orthodontics, Illinois Society of Orthodontics, American Dental Association, McHenry County Dental Society, Northern Illinois Dental Specialist Study Group and the Algonquin/LITH and Cary chambers of commerce. She was a member of the board of directors of the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation from 1993 to 2001.
A mother of two, Schmidt enjoys gardening, biking, hiking and skiing.
>> Dr. Schmidt’s office locations: 1700 E. Algonquin Road, Algonquin, 847-854-1873; and 888 Feinberg Court, Cary, 847-516-2010. To learn more about Schmidt’s practice, visit www.schmidtorthodontics.com.