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Malocclusion and Orthodontics - When To Call a Doctor

  • Call your dentist or orthodontist immediately for a dental emergency, such as the loss of a tooth or if a broken orthodontic device (appliance) prevents you from opening or closing your mouth. For more information, see the topic Mouth and Dental Injuries.
  • Call for an appointment with your orthodontist or dentist if nonprescription pain relievers don't ease appliance-related pain or if your appliance has loose brackets or bands, distorted wires, or wires that are too long and irritate the inside of your cheeks.

Start your child's dental visits at a young age, both to help your child become familiar with a dentist and to watch for any early dental or malocclusion problems. Keep up with regular dental checkups (twice a year). For more information, see the topic Basic Dental Care.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is when you and your doctor watch symptoms to see if a health condition improves on its own. If it does, no treatment is needed. If symptoms don't get better or get worse, then it's time to take the next treatment step.

Watchful waiting is often fine for children who have malocclusion. Keep in mind that the early years, when the jawbone is still growing, are the best time for braces camera.gif. Some people wait until they are adults before straightening their teeth. After you talk with a dentist or orthodontist about your or your child's situation, it's usually up to you to decide the timing of treatment.

Who to see

A general dentist or a pediatric (children's) dentist can give dental care, a first checkup for orthodontic treatment, and simple orthodontic corrections.

Dentists who have 2 years or more of extra training in a specific area treat more complex dental problems. Dental specialists who treat different aspects of malocclusion are:

  • Orthodontists, who straighten teeth.
  • Prosthodontists, who replace missing teeth.
  • Periodontists, who treat or prevent gum (periodontal) disease.
  • Oral surgeons (maxillofacial surgeons), who surgically treat structural problems of the jaw, face, head, or neck.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 02, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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