The main reason to see an orthodontist is to correct misalignments and other problems with your teeth and jaw that affect more than the appearance of your smile. When your teeth are not in the correct position, and the top and bottom teeth do not touch in the right way, other problems can arise.

An orthodontist is first a dentist, and then gets additional years of training to become a specialist in orthodontics. Straightening teeth is just the beginning. An attractive smile is important for self-confidence and can make a big difference in your appearance. However, there are several other reasons to see an orthodontist if you have symptoms such as:

• Clenching or grinding of your teeth
• Mouth breathing, snoring and sleep apnea
• Speech impediments
• TMJ or jaw pain
• Tooth decay or gum disease
• Problems chewing

Orthodontics is not just for teenagers. Many adults are turning to orthodontics to correct problems that were not treated when they were young. Overcrowded teeth may be difficult to floss and brush, so they develop decay more easily than straight teeth. An improper bite can wear down teeth more quickly than usual and cause jaw pain. When chewing is not complete, both children and adults do not get the proper nutrition from food.

It is recommended for children to visit an orthodontist when they start losing their baby teeth. Our orthodontist will be able to see the spaces where the adult teeth will grow and if the process is advancing at a normal pace. If baby teeth start falling out too late or too early, it could have an effect on the placement of the permanent teeth. However, there is no rule. Some visit when they are six and some when they are 12. However, it is worth having problems spotted early, so the orthodontist can choose the best time for treatment.

Parafunctional habits are another reason to visit an orthodontist. These habits include sucking the thumb or fingers, thrusting the tongue against the upper and lower teeth and grinding teeth at night. There are habit-breaking appliances that our orthodontist can give that may help to prevent these habits from causing serious problems later, such as speech impediments or lisping.

During a consultation with our specialist, an X-ray or a mold of your teeth may be taken. Our orthodontist will examine your teeth, jaw and mouth and ask you to bite your teeth together so they can be examined for overbite or under bite. You may be asked if you have any problems chewing, speaking or swallowing and if your jaw ever makes a popping or clicking noise when you open and close your mouth.

If our orthodontist recommends braces, he may also recommend that you have one or more teeth removed to make room for the other teeth to be straightened. There are several different types of braces, including traditional metal braces, ceramic braces that are colored to match your teeth, self-ligating braces and virtually invisible braces.

If you feel you have any of the above-mentioned problems, you may be able to get help by seeing our orthodontist at the office of Dr. Brodie Bowman, DMD. We have locations in Fort Walton Beach and Niceville. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.