Your 8 1/4-year-old: Ready for braces?

Your 8 1/4-year-old: Ready for braces?

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Your 8-year-old now

Will your child need braces? Many children make their first orthodontic visit in the middle- to late-elementary school years.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have a first visit before age 7, while the permanent teeth are still coming in. Although few problems require correcting at this age, the orthodontist can evaluate potential problems to watch out for and outline a possible course of treatment.

Common genetic problems that children develop include dental crowding (teeth too close together), too much space between teeth, protruding teeth, and extra or missing teeth. Jaw growth problems are another inherited issue.

Other dental problems can be caused by habits (such as thumb-sucking or mouth breathing), dental disease, accidents, or poor nutrition.

Your child's regular dentist will also be on the lookout for potential problems. If you don't decide to visit an orthodontist when your child is this age, you may choose to follow his regular dentist's recommendations for when to consult an orthodontist.

Your life now

Few movies seem to be rated G (for general audiences) any more. A PG movie is one for which parental guidance is suggested because some material may not be suitable for children. You can watch a trailer or, better, consult the reviews at a family-oriented site like Common Sense Media to help you decide whether you feel it's appropriate for your 8-year-old.

But what about PG-13 flicks? This designation means "Parents strongly cautioned; some material may be inappropriate for children under 13."

According to the Motion Pictures Association Ratings Board, this sterner warning means there may be violence, nudity, sensuality, language, or other content that, while not as extreme as in an R movie, is more significant than in one rated PG. Typically a single "harsh" expletive or show of drug use will earn a movie a PG-13 rating.

Not all parents agree on what's appropriate for kids. Before sending your child to spend time with another family, you may want to ask which movies your child might watch at their home or at a birthday movie outing.

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