Dr. M. Scott Runnels has 16 years of experience as an orthodontist and has treated scores of patients over the years.
But the Panama City Beach orthodontist vividly remembers what it was like when he was a boy – a boy whose personality was shaped in part by the fact he was ashamed of his teeth.
“I wouldn’t smile,” Dr. Runnels said of the time before he sought orthodontic treatment.
That childhood experience led him to the career he has chosen.
“I actually wanted to be an orthodontist since I was 10,” Dr. Runnels said.
Determining when to take their child to the orthodontist is a decision parents may agonize over, but waiting until they are in middle school or older can lead to dental and orthodontic problems as children age. Many parents are choosing early orthodontic care for their children, which can correct problems early in life and keep kids brace-free as they enter their teenage years.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children be screened by age 7. If problems are found early, treatment and care can begin while children are still growing – care that may not be an option once the jaw and face have stopped growing.
Doctor Runnels and his staff take a proactive approach to orthodontic care, working with children and their parents to prevent kids from the risk of teeth fracture or surgery when they are older.
Some symptoms that may indicate your child should visit an orthodontist include:
- Early, or late, loss of baby teeth.
- Thumb or finger sucking.
- Speech problems.
- Problems with biting or chewing.
- Biting of the tongue or cheek.
The benefits of early screening and treatment for children are myriad – from improved self-esteem and confidence to better overall dental health.
A recent study also found that kids with dental problems are more likely to be bullied – with 50 percent of children who said they were bullied claiming they were targeted because of the poor condition of their teeth.
Doctor Runnels and his staff offer a casual, welcoming atmosphere for patients of all ages.
“You don’t feel like you are in a doctor’s office,” Runnels said. “There’s a sense of warmth…Everyone is on a first-name basis.”
Contact Dr. Runnels’ office to schedule a screening for your child – a screening by an orthodontist who remembers what it was like to be a young kid in need of orthodontic care.