Your child should start seeing the dentist at the age of one or whenever they get their first tooth. Taking your child to the dentist is key to ensuring that they develop healthy teeth and gums and that their teeth are growing properly.
But what about when your child needs to visit the orthodontist? How do you choose the best orthodontist for your child?
If you’re thinking about taking your child to an orthodontist, you want them to have the best care for their teeth. Keep reading to learn more about how to pick an orthodontist.
What Is an Orthodontist?
General dentists exam and clean children’s teeth, making sure they’re healthy. They perform cleanings, take x-rays, diagnose dental problems, and teach oral education to patients.
Orthodontists are also a type of dentist, but their specialty is in correcting jaw abnormalities like overbite, crossbite, underbite, and crooked or crowded teeth. Orthodontists help people achieve better jaw function and tooth alignment by using braces and other appliances.
While you might think that having a straighter smile is for cosmetic purposes, there are many benefits of straight teeth. Crooked teeth often cause pain or you might have trouble speaking. You can clean the entire surface of your teeth when they’re straight, leading to healthier teeth and gums.
While your dentist can tell you when your child should see an orthodontist, most children have their first visit by the age of seven. Early diagnosis matters, because orthodontists can focus on phase 1 orthodontics for children, catching problems before they become larger. Even if they’re not ready to begin treatment, the orthodontist lets you know when they may be ready.
How to Pick an Orthodontist
Choosing an orthodontist is not an easy task for parents or guardians. However, with a few tips, you can find an orthodontist that suits your child’s needs. Here are some important factors and characteristics to look for in an orthodontist.
The orthodontist that you see must have a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry and authorized to practice dentistry in your area. They should have a clean medical record and display their credentials in their office or workspace. An unqualified dentist, or someone who doesn’t display their credentials, is a red flag and you should look elsewhere.
Orthodontists must complete 4 years of dental school and an additional 2 to 3 years of orthodontic residency to qualify as an orthodontist. During this time, they see patients and gain hands-on experience. They may even make diagnoses under the supervision of a professional orthodontist.
You can ask an orthodontist where they went to school and how many years they spent there. Some orthodontists participate in continuing education programs, where they learn new methods and technologies. You can inquire about this as well.
The experience of the orthodontist matters as well. You want an orthodontist who has seen a variety of patients with different dental issues and in seeing children. Treating children differs from treating adults, especially in managing behavior at dental visits or for children with special needs.
If you find an orthodontist you love, ask them how long they’ve had experience working with children.
One thing you’ll want to know when choosing an orthodontist is the location of their practice. If you need to bring your child or children for visits every few weeks, you’ll want a practice that’s close to your home. To find an orthodontist in close proximity, start an internet search with, ‘orthodontist near me’ and go from there.
While you might love an orthodontist who has a practice far from your home, it may be too much driving several times a month. Children often need to wear braces for 2 to 3 years, so consider the amount of driving you’ll do during that time.
Reviews and Recommendations
A recommendation for an orthodontist should come first from your dentist. Most dentists network with orthodontists and recommend patients to their practice. If you’re looking for recommendations, ask your dentist if they have any.
Be sure to read reviews on dentists online. You’ll get a feel for their practice and read about patients’ experiences.
Cost and Payment
Orthodontic work may cause some parents to reconsider taking their kids to the orthodontist because it can get expensive. However, it’s important to remember that straight teeth can have health benefits, so orthodontic work is a type of investment.
You do want to ask the orthodontic office about the cost of treatment and ways you can pay for it. Many orthodontic offices offer payment plans for their patients with no interest, making it much more affordable for families with financial concerns.
Before you commit to any type of orthodontic treatment, you should visit the office and the orthodontist first for a consultation. Seeing the office and meeting the staff gives you a better picture of how the office operates. You’ll also get to meet the orthodontist in person and ask questions.
Office cleanliness matters as well. A cluttered or unkempt office can signal problems with sanitary regulations. Look for an office that’s clean and orderly, where the technology is maintained and well-cared for.
Overall you want your child to feel comfortable in this environment and with the orthodontist. Your child may show some hesitation at first, which is normal, but they should ease into a more comfortable relationship with their orthodontist. If your child’s hesitations do not diminish, you may want to consider a different orthodontist.
Who Is The Best Orthodontist for Your Child?
Finding the best orthodontist for your child may take some trial and error. Once you find an orthodontist that works for you, you’ll know the health of your child’s smile is in good hands.
Do you want to learn more about how to help your child keep their teeth healthy? Visit our Health and Beauty page today to learn more!