Your child’s first orthodontic appointment is coming up soon and you’re concerned about how they will react to the experience. It’s natural to approach such a milestone with some anxiety, and it’s up to you to prepare the way. How this conversation goes will depend on their age, of course, but there are some general tips we can offer to get them prepared for orthodontic treatment.
Above all, it’s important that you accept their anxiousness as normal. You may see or hear fear, shame, or confusion and it’s up to you to react calmly and with understanding. The more anxious you are, the more their anxiety will skyrocket, too.
In this article, we will discuss when a child’s first orthodontic visit should happen and how you can assure that they have the information and reassurance they need.
Your Child’s First Orthodontic Appointment
Many parents are surprised to learn The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children have their first orthodontic check-up by the age of seven by an experienced children’s orthodontics practice. Even though children still have some baby teeth at this age, an orthodontist can see where the adult teeth will come in and prepare for later orthodontic treatment.
For example, if your child’s mouth is too small for the adult teeth that will be coming in, a device called a palatal expander can be used to create more room. This prevents more complex problems later.
At your child’s first orthodontist appointment, they will have a complete orthodontic examination. In most cases, images or X-rays will be done. The orthodontist will examine the bite alignment, make impressions, and discuss any proposed orthodontic treatment plan. This is the main goal of the first visit while also giving you–and your child–time to ask questions and get clarifications on the plan.
This visit will begin their orthodontic record so the growth of teeth can be tracked over time and any potential issues will be noted early. A complete medical and personal history of your child will also be started.
By the end of the first visit, your child will know the orthodontist, the staff, and the environment of the office. They will know what to expect at subsequent visits so they now feel more comfortable. You will have the opportunity to ask all questions you may have about the results of the exam and any treatment that might be recommended.
How to Successfully Prepare Your Child for Orthodontic Treatment
There are several things you can do to prepare your child for their first orthodontic visit. First of all, don’t surprise a child on the day of the appointment. Advanced communication is key.
By introducing the idea several days before the visit and providing reassurance, information, and support, they will have time to get used to the idea and ask questions.
Also, ask your child if they have any questions about the orthodontist or what is going to happen once you arrive at the office. Some children won’t know what questions to ask or won’t be able to verbalize how they are feeling without some prompting from you.
Answers to Questions Your Child May Ask
All of the information you provide will make your child feel more comfortable with the idea of going to the orthodontist, so be ready to answer some of the following questions:
Why do I have to go to the orthodontist?
Lay to rest any fears that something is wrong with them. Explain why it’s important to start seeing an orthodontist early so their smile will be the best it can be for the rest of their life. Assure older kids that roughly four million children in the U.S. wear braces, so they are all seeing their orthodontists too.
How are an orthodontist and a dentist different?
They have many similarities. Both dentists and orthodontists want to make sure your teeth and mouth are healthy. But, orthodontists are dentists with additional special training to specifically treat jaw and teeth misalignments like gaps between teeth, overbites, crowded teeth, and underbites.
What’s going to happen at my appointment?
You can explain that the first visit will mainly be a consultation. There will be an examination of their teeth and bite alignment, x-rays will be taken, and impressions made. They will also get to meet their orthodontist and the staff and see the office.
Is anything going to hurt?
An examination, X-rays, and taking an impression won’t hurt, although it may be a little uncomfortable with unfamiliar things in the mouth for short periods.
If your child is going to have to wear braces, be honest. There is some aching when the braces are first put on and then each time they are tightened or adjusted. Over-the-counter pain relievers will help get them through it. And maybe a special treat after each visit!
More Ways to Help Your Child Be Comfortable With Visits to the Orthodontist
Here are some more ways you can help your child be as comfortable as possible going to an orthodontist, especially the first time.
- Share clear expectations with your child: What will happen at each visit and how long each will take.
- Involve them in the process: Find ways to get your child involved, such as the color of the bands on their braces and where they go after the appointment.
- Talk about the positives instead of any negatives: Emphasize the end result of orthodontic treatment, such as a great smile in a healthy mouth. Tell them about their favorite sports stars, musicians, and actors who wore braces.
Bernstein Orthodontics is Your Trusted Local Provider for Children’s Orthodontic Treatment
Don’t assume your child knows anything about children’s orthodontic treatment, what orthodontists do, and what will happen during a visit. It’s understandable for your child to be worried or even afraid of going to the orthodontist. By telling your child the truth, being open, and answering their questions, you can prepare your child for the orthodontist.
For effective children’s orthodontics in Cary, NC, look no further than Bernstein Orthodontics. Our experienced, empathetic team will help in any way we can! Contact us today if you or your child has questions and to schedule your child’s orthodontic appointment.