Getting Your Child Started With Orthodontic Care

Posted on: 29 July 2015

You've probably been keeping dental appointments since you were little, but if you never had any experience with an orthodontist, you may have no clue what to expect when your child needs this specialized practitioner. Here are some important basic points for getting your little one started with orthodontic care.

Money Matters

Securing affordable orthodontics for your child is a more achievable goal than you might think. Many orthodontists understand the need to work with parents' finances, and some can include all your child's examinations, treatments and appliances under a single comprehensive fee so you won't have extra expenses sneaking up on you here and there. (Always make sure this is the case before you sign on the dotted line.) You should also be able to work out a reasonably budget-friendly monthly payment plan.

Don't forget the role insurance coverage can play in obtaining more affordable orthodontics for your little one. If you are covered by Medicaid, for example, you may be able to apply that coverage to orthodontic work. As a medically necessary procedure, your child's braces may also be tax deductible, along with associated costs such as orthodontic evaluations and co-pays.

Starting Early

Many people automatically assume the orthodontists enter the dental picture when patients reach their teens. While it's true that many adolescents receive their first set of braces at around this time, younger patients can also benefit greatly from orthodontic evaluations and treatment. That's because misalignment issues can begin as soon as a child's first set of teeth come in. In some cases, baby teeth that refuse to fall out on schedule can cause the underlying permanent teeth to grow in crooked. At other times, permanent teeth may erupt in a way that encourages overcrowding.

Early detection and intervention is always best, so schedule your child's first orthodontic appointment by the age of seven. This gives the orthodontist plenty of time to monitor the ingrowing teeth's progress and straightness. If a baby tooth or permanent tooth needs to be extracted, your orthodontist can advise you on when and how that procedure should be performed.

Selecting the Right Practitioner

How do you find the best orthodontist for your child's needs? Orthodontics is a specialized field requiring years of additional study and experience above and beyond general dentistry. While it's unlikely that your prospective orthodontist lacks the necessary qualifications to work in the profession, always look for credentials from such authoritative bodies as the American Board of Orthodontics and the American Association of Orthodontics.

Another less tangible but equally important issue is the rapport your child has with the orthodontist. Teenage patients in particular may be struggling with self-consciousness and other issues that boost their anxiety levels, so make sure the orthodontist and staff are going out of their way to provide a friendly, reassuring environment. 

Understanding Your Child's Options

Once upon a time it seemed that every youngster in need of dental realignment received the exact same type of metal braces -- but your child doesn't necessarily have to follow suit. Today's tooth straightening technologies include:

  • Lingual braces - Your child's mild to moderate misalignment can be corrected with lingual braces that line the inner surfaces of teeth, making them undetectable to onlookers. Be aware, however, that adjusting them can be a tricky business, and sensitive tongues may not find them very comfortable. Traditional metal braces are more affordable.
  • Colored (or transparent) braces - Who says braces have to be all silver? These days there a variety of stylish colors that turn a set of braces into a fashion statement, or you can opt for white brackets (the pieces that connect to the teeth) that call minimal attention to themselves. Colored elastic bands add another touch of flair, usually for no extra money. Your child can even get white or clear brackets for that near-invisible look.
  • Aligner trays - Truly invisible braces are a different product entirely, and for people with mild to moderate alignment issues they offer several advantages over traditional braces. These clear plastic aligners are custom-molded to your child's teeth; every couple of weeks, the orthodontist replaces the current set of aligners with a new, slightly different set, thus reshaping your child's smile with no need for manual tightening. Since they're removable, your child can pop them out to eat or brush -- and when they're in the mouth, they're undetectable at any reasonable distance.

Going to an orthodontist might never be on your youngster's list of favorite activities -- but getting him started early, choosing the right practitioner, and exploring the various treatment options can help produce the best experience and results possible. Check out sites like for more info and good luck!