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Taking care of children's dental hygiene

Children sucking their thumb is also something Foreman says parents should watch out for.

"It can orthodontically move teeth and it can actually move bone if the child continues to do it," Foreman explained.

If a child is sucking their thumb, a special orthodontic pacifier can be substituted, although Foreman said it may need to be special ordered.

If a child does suck their thumb and orthodontic problems ensue, that is when an orthodontist may be necessary for a child.

According to Dr. Mark Thomson, an orthodontist who practices in the city of Plattsburgh, the American Association of Orthodontics suggests children see an orthodontist around the age of 7 to see if problems may be detected at an earlier age.

"There are times when you can [see] somebody early ... and maybe make some recommendations," explained Thomson. "Maybe it means early treatment, maybe not."

For children who end up needing braces, dental hygiene is still of great importance.

"We spend quite a bit of time with patients going through specific hygiene instructions, making sure that they're brushing, making sure that they're flossing, making sure they're doing all the preventative care to maintain oral health with braces on," said Thomson. "We try to stress hygiene both to families and patients involved in treatment."

"There aren't many things that are more upsetting to us in the profession than patients who don't take care of themselves while they're involved in orthodontic treatment," added Thomson.

Thomson said one of the best ways to avoid unnecessary need for orthodontic treatment is for children to wear mouthguards.

"As a parent, you want to make sure your kids are safe," he said. "You want to make sure if they're involved in contact sports or athletics, that they're taking the precautions and wearing appropriate protection."

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