Children should undergo an orthodontic assessment before the full eruption of their adult teeth, usually between the ages of 7 and 10. Whilst your child might already be accustomed to their check-ups at the dentist, orthodontic treatment is something entirely new to them. Your child might feel worried or scared about visiting the orthodontist for the first time simply because it's something brand new -- but fortunately, you can make this visit (and future visits) much smoother and easier by doing the following things.
1. Explain the Reason for the Visit
Explain to your child that many (or even most) kids their age see an orthodontist, and that the visit allows the orthodontist to check on how their adult teeth will emerge. Make sure to convey to your child that this is just a check-up. There won't be any major treatment done during the first visit, but there might be photographs and X-rays. Knowing that they won't have to deal with a dental drill or other uncomfortable treatment can help your child relax about their first orthodontic visit.
2. Talk About Future Treatment Options
Many kids fear a trip to the orthodontist because they don't want braces or other dental appliances. Tell your child that they won't be getting braces straight away, but that when they're ready for treatment in the future there are several different options. You can tell your child about options such as:
- Ceramic braces: tooth-coloured ceramic brackets make this type of braces much less noticeable
- Clear aligners: clear aligners can correct the bite without metal
- Lingual braces: lingual braces are attached to the backs of the teeth, making them impossible to see whilst smiling
When your child knows they have options, they'll feel more hopeful about their future treatment. Also, just in case they do need metal braces, remind your child that today's metal braces are so lightweight and small that they're much more comfortable and easy to wear than they were when you were growing up.
3. Talk About Benefits
Whilst your child probably understands that orthodontic treatment is designed to give them a straight smile, be sure that they know how important that really is. Remind your child of how nice it will feel to smile with confidence while meeting new people, while talking to friends or when taking photos. Sometimes, the first few orthodontic visits are stressful because a child may be thinking of only the drawbacks to braces or other treatments. Reminding them of the amazing benefit of a beautiful smile -- one that will last a lifetime -- can really help turn their attitude around.
Be sure to cover the topics above with your child before their first visit to the children's orthodontist. It can make the appointment much easier for the both of you!