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  • When is the Right Time to See an Orthodontist?

    At Lincoln Orthodontics, we specialize in creating picture-perfect smiles for patients across all ages in Lincoln, Nebraska and the surrounding areas. We do a great job making sure patients and their parents or caregivers are informed and cared for properly, while also having a lot of fun, so choosing us as your orthodontist is the easy part. “When is the right time to see an orthodontist?” is a challenging question.In fact, it is one of the most frequently asked questions we get. This is why we created our Lincoln Orthodontics Jrs. Program and invite patients to begin seeing the orthodontist between the ages of seven and nine years old.

    Lincoln Orthodontics Jr’s is a free program for young patients who may not yet be ready for a full orthodontic treatment. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children be seen for an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. While referrals from a general or pediatric dentist are not required for an appointment at Lincoln Orthodontics, Dr. Emily Willett and her orthodontic staff closely work with your dentist and hygienist to set our treatment goals and timeline. Dr. Willett communicates with her dental colleagues regarding orthodontic issues to be watching for, so a referral may be made if appropriate. We also see patients whose parents just want to make sure things are growing and developing normally, and that’s great too! Any patient who doesn’t have immediate orthodontic treatment needs are welcomed into our growth eruption guidance program, Lincoln Ortho Jrs., which enables us to:

    • See our growth observation patients about every 6 to 12 months.
    • Monitor the eruption patterns of the permanent teeth.
    • Make sure the roots of baby teeth are being resorbed.
    • Monitor the growth of both jaws.

    Determine the proper timing and need for your child to see an orthodontist for treatment.
    Notify your general or pediatric dentist of any recommendations we have made during your visit.
    Poor eruption patterns of permanent teeth may be eliminated with this early intervention, which could reduce the future treatment time and complexity of needs with full treatment.

    If you need a little more help deciding when to see an orthodontist you can always reach out to us at Lincoln Orthodontics by calling (402) 489-8841 or there are five signs to watch out for, so you can determine if you should see an orthodontist.

    Losing Baby Teeth Early or Late

    When teeth fall out prematurely due to accidents or decay, an orthodontist should be consulted to determine if the use of a space maintainer is necessary. Without the space maintainer, teeth may shift positions causing further problems for adult teeth. If teeth are falling out late it can become a problem for adult teeth by causing overcrowding, which inhibits the gums ability to push out baby teeth

    Teeth are Crowded or Misplaced

    An overcrowded mouth can cause crooked placement. Misplaced teeth will cause oral issues like breathing through the mouth or changes in speech. Then when teeth are blocked out they will decay more rapidly. Noticing these conditions is a good signal to see the orthodontist.

    A Concerning Bite or Irregular Chewing

    According to the American Association of Orthodontics, there are several types of irregular bites that are concerning and if untreated can have effects on the jaw itself. When the following occurs it would be a good idea to see an orthodontist. Our experts at Lincoln Orthodontics can provide the care to treat any of these bites.

    • A crossbite– the upper teeth sit within or outside of the lower teeth. Untreated can cause a shift of the jaw.
    • An underbite– the lower teeth sit in front of the upper teeth. Stress on jaw joints is a possible consequence.
    • An open bite– the lower and upper teeth do not meet. It can lead to swallowing problems or issues with speech.
    • A deep bite– the front teeth cover the bottom teeth by too much. This situation leads to bottom teeth biting into the roof of the mouth and then the upper teeth biting into the gums.
    • A protrusive bite– teeth are angled protruding out of the mouth. The issues here are accidental breaking, dried out oral tissues, and uncomfortable closing of the mouth.


    The Mayo Clinic states that when the teeth begin to grind with each other it can lead to poor tooth health and other problems. The other issues can be headaches, chewing issues, toothaches, and fractures. Orthodontic treatment can aid and assist with these problems. Solutions like mouthguards or braces might be the fix for teeth grinding.

    Jaw movement (forward, backward, or shifts left or right)

    • Closely related to the bite concerns jaw movement is another good indication for a trip to an orthodontist. Jaw movement leads to concerns with bites such as grinding teeth or biting certain areas of the mouth.
    • Jaw movement forward is where the lower jaw extends too far causing a severe underbite.
    • Jaw movement backward occurs when the lower jaw is too far underneath the upper jaw creating a severe overbite.
    • When the jaw shifts left or right it creates crossbites that interfere with teeth placement and can lead to grinding of gums or teeth.

    Sleep Related Breathing Disturbances or Snoring

    With our 3D xrays taken during our free orthodontic consultation, Dr. Willett reviews all relevant tooth and oral cavity anatomy, and also evaluates the airway for sleep-related breathing disturbances (SRBD), risks of sleep apnea, or snoring. There can be oral signs and symptoms of SRBD and orthodontic treatment may reduce long-term risk factors or treat current issues. Dr. Willett studies extensively the current research and the American Association of Orthodontists’ recommendations. Collaborating with your child’s pediatrician, sleep physician, ENT, speech pathologist and dentist is a unique way our team at Lincoln Orthodontics is treating your child for more than just straight teeth.

    Knowing some of these key indications can make the difference in setting a smile up for success. Remember to be mindful of early or late loss of baby teeth, concerning biting or chewing, teeth that are crowded, misplaced, blocked out, unnatural movement of the jaw, and teeth that are grinding together. Early intervention for these problems can reduce the traditional treatment time.

    If you think you may need to see an orthodontist in Lincoln, Nebraska and you are looking for the best, visit Dr. Emily Willett at Lincoln Orthodontics at 6825 S 27th Street, Ste 202 Lincoln, NE 68512. (402) 489-8841 to schedule a free consultation and join our Jrs Program, so you can make the best decisions for future orthodontic treatment.

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