Consult an Orthodontist: The Whys and Whens

A half smile (or no smile at all), underbite, overbite, lack of self confidence—there is a litany of reasons that should makes a trip to the orthodontist a priority. Typically though, when it comes to consulting orthodontist, it is the bite that is worse than the bark. Malocclusions, or bad bites, are the main reason why people consult an orthodontist.

The three classes (I, II, III) of bad bite misalignments can lead to a number of problems like speech impediments, sleep apnea (as a result of mouth breathing and snoring), difficulty chewing and eating and, of course, gum disease and tooth decay. An orthodontic consultation becomes important if any of these symptoms manifest or persist, as orthodontic readjustment can sometimes lead to these conditions being corrected.

So when should children consult an orthodontist? The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends before they turn 7 years old. It may seem a little premature to some, but that pre-screening could be the ounce of prevention that saves you the pounds of cure down the road. Determining and addressing issues early on could help to alleviate the need for braces, and—if not—puts the child on a treatment track well in advance.

As for adults, there is no moratorium on when to consult an orthodontist. In fact, what was seen as the purview of children and adolescents now has more and more adults seeking readjustment. A 2012 New York Times article adult orthodontic treatments have increased 58% in a 16-year period (1994-2010).

Believe it or not, habits—or more specifically the breaking of bad ones—also falls under the category of when to consult an orthodontist. Grinding, thrusting and thumb-sucking can all be detrimental to overall dental problems and with a little persuasion can be addressed to prevent damage.

Another reason why to consult an orthodontist is to correct or adjust spacing or crowding issues. Teeth that are too close together or exhibit uneven spacing can make hygiene difficult which in turn can lead to decay and gum disease. Readjusting it has the benefit of a more confident smile.

Although the orthodontist’s primary concern is how the post-treatment bite aligns, the aesthetic value cannot be under-estimated. In fact, according to a webMD article, a study showed that those with straighter teeth rated higher with leadership, popularity and even athletic ability scores. At Orthodontic Associates, we try to make your consultation as convenient as possible by offering eight locations around the Greater Baltimore area. Numerous treatment styles, coupled with our experienced team of doctors, friendly support staff and multiple payment options offer you the added convenience of more choice. We look forward to seeing you smile!


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