How to Prepare for Your Child’s First Orthodontic Appointment

Your family dentist has recommended that your child see an orthodontist to evaluate future overcrowding in the child’s mouth. And maybe the dentist’s suggestion surprised you because you didn’t know young children needed orthodontic care

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that the first orthodontic appointment for kids happens by age seven. It could be even earlier if a potential problem like a bad bite or crowding of teeth is identified by a dentist. By age 13, most of the permanent teeth are in place and this is when braces or other orthodontic devices are placed in the mouth if needed.

You know there will probably be some anxiety for both you and your child, and you don’t want to make the situation worse. So, what’s the best way to prepare for your child’s first orthodontic appointment? 

In this article, we will offer some tips to help get ready for this appointment and what will happen during the visit. The more information you have and can share with your child the smoother everything will go.

What Happens at Your Child’s First Orthodontic Appointment

You know your child better than anyone else, so tailor the conversation to their anxiety level and age. The main thing is to offer reassurance and support as you educate them about what to expect.

At your child’s first orthodontic appointment, a complete orthodontic examination will be done, which begins your child’s orthodontic record. This includes imaging and X-rays taken according to the orthodontist’s specifications. The orthodontist also examines the bite alignment, makes impressions, and discusses any proposed orthodontic treatment plan. A complete medical and personal history of your child will also be started. All of this begins their orthodontic record so the growth of teeth can be tracked over time. 

By the time this first visit is over, you and your child will have met all the key personnel in the office. You will have a better idea of how the office works, how to make appointments, and who will be involved in treatment if the treatment plan begins immediately. Subsequent visits will be much less stressful because of this introductory appointment.

Preparing For Your Child’s Orthodontic Appointment

Be prepared for your child to have questions throughout their orthodontic treatment plan. It is important that you answer their questions as best you can, or find the answers for them. This will alleviate some of their anxiety and ease their stress. Kids (and many adults!) will generally blow unknown situations out of proportion if they don’t have the information they need. You can help ease their worry by being honest and letting them know what to expect. 

Here are some tips that will help make your child as comfortable as possible about going to the orthodontist:

Set Aside Your Anxiety and Accept Theirs

If you have anxiety and fear about going to the dentist or orthodontist yourself, you must control those in front of your child. Even if your child doesn’t openly express their feelings, you can be sure they have them. By setting aside your fears and offering information even if they don’t ask, you can help your child know what to expect. 

Accept some anxiousness as normal. They may express fear, confusion, or even shame. You need to act calmly and with empathy for their feelings. You may see or hear fear, shame, or confusion and it’s up to you to react calmly and with understanding. Don’t minimize these feelings. Assure them that it is normal to be nervous and you will be there with them throughout it all.

Tell Your Child What to Expect

This should be a continuing conversation. Establish the expectations for each appointment and make sure your child understands. They need to know what is going to happen at each visit, approximately how long it will take, who will be involved, what to expect during their first week in braces, etc. Don’t expect them to know what questions to ask. Offer the information. Also, don’t spring appointments on them at the last minute. Tell them ahead of time so they can mentally prepare, but not too much time so they worry unnecessarily.

Focus on the Positives

Remind them as often as necessary about the need for this treatment and how it will benefit them throughout their life. Tell them what could happen if orthodontic treatment isn’t carried out.  Point out photos of their favorite actors or other celebrities and how nice their teeth look. Explain to them that those people most likely had to have orthodontic treatment too. 

Let Them Be Part of the Process

Depending on the age of the child, allow them to be part of the process as much as possible. Let them choose the color of the rubber bands if their treatment involves traditional braces. Ask if they want you to accompany them into the treatment area. Make it part of every appointment to go somewhere special when it’s over. Let them decide where to go.

Be Honest

Parents want to protect their children whenever possible, but dishonesty isn’t protecting them. Your child is going to ask if their treatment will hurt. Be honest and specific about what parts of their treatment might be uncomfortable. For example, an examination, X-rays, and taking an impression won’t hurt, but it may be uncomfortable for short periods.

Other parts of their treatment may involve some pain. Any injections, for example, might hurt. If they wear braces, it will cause soreness each time the braces are tightened. Let them know that any pain or discomfort doesn’t last long and you will give them safe pain relievers to help them until the pain disappears. 

If you lead them to believe they won’t experience any pain, all trust can be lost between you and your child when pain happens. Eventually, you will have problems getting them to go to the orthodontist without a fight.

White Plains Orthodontics Is Here to Help Make Orthodontics as Comfortable as Possible

Getting your child started with their orthodontic care at an early age is important to their future oral health. Parents must set a positive stage for this care so their child understands and can anticipate everything that will happen during their treatment plan. By employing the tips outlined in this article, everyone will be more comfortable and the results will be the best they can be.

The expert orthodontic team here at White Plains Orthodontics is dedicated to providing a comfortable and stress-free experience for your child’s first orthodontic appointment, offering personalized care and guidance every step of the way. We are available to answer questions and lend assistance to you and your child. Contact us now to get started!