How to Prepare Your Child for the First Orthodontist Appointment
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that parents schedule the first orthodontist appointment for their children by the age of seven. We concur. Visiting a pediatric orthodontist does not mean your child will require braces or treatment right way (or ever). This early orthodontic evaluation simply gives us an opportunity to identify any problems and create the best plan for a healthy smile in the future.
7 More Reasons Your 7-Year-Old Should See a Pediatric Orthodontist
Once you make that first orthodontist appointment for your child, it’s important to share what he or she can expect. That’s why we put together these five tips for preparing your child for that first trip to the orthodontist.
1. Explain clearly the need for the appointment.
It’s helpful for your child to clearly understand why he or she is going to the orthodontist. Braces and Invisalign are used to treat misaligned teeth, imbalanced jaw structures, and improve the smile so your child can be healthier, happier, and more confident. Let your child know that the earlier one sees an orthodontist, the less time treatment will take.
2. Encourage your child that he or she is not alone.
Most kids have a friend, sibling, cousin or someone they know at school who has gone to the orthodontist. Make sure your child understands that this is a very common occurrence for kids their age.
3. Share what to expect at that first orthodontist appointment.
The initial appointment will consist of an oral examination, digital x-rays and photos, as well as a discussion of treatment options. The x-rays help us see what’s going on underneath the gums, the position and growth of bones and joints, and the location of any teeth still below the gum line. Then if the doctor feels it is time — and if you feel ready — we can oftentimes start treatment the same day.
4. Meet your orthodontist.
Explain to your child that an orthodontist is similar to the dentist, but has three extra years of training past dental school. They are specialists who diagnose, prevent and treat a variety of dental problems that will have a positive impact on your child’s health, appearance, development, and comfort. In short, they are the experts in straightening teeth and creating beautiful smiles.
5. Introduce the treatment options.
Before going to the orthodontist, you may want to go over the various orthodontic treatment options. While we may or may not start these treatments right away, the information can still be helpful for kids to hear. Some popular treatments include:
Without the use of wires and brackets, Invisalign straightens your teeth with a series of clear, customized, removable aligners. Every one to two weeks, we design a new set of aligners to gradually move your teeth into proper placement. Along the way, patients enjoy the ability to easily remove the aligners for eating, brushing and flossing, without calling unwanted attention to their teeth.
Braces use constant, gentle pressure to move teeth into their proper positions over time. The two main components of your braces include: 1) brackets on your teeth and 2) a main archwire to connect them. We first affix the brackets — clear or metal — to each tooth and then thread the wire threads through the brackets to move teeth into ideal alignment.
This appliance applies gentle pressure on the upper molars to widen the upper jaw.
Like the expander, this appliance widens the arch of the mouth to make room for crowded teeth through the use of four springs. The Quad Helix can also correct posterior crossbites.
In some situations, we may place a lip bumper appliance to move the molars back and make room for the lower teeth.
At the first orthodontist appointment, we want to determine the best treatment plan for your child — either immediately or sometime down the road. Our biggest desire is to make all your visits pleasant, informative, and productive—and ultimately to give you a happier and healthier smile.
If you’re interested in learning more about orthodontic treatment for your child, don’t hesitate to reach out. We look forward to meeting you!