When children are about to visit the orthodontist for an evaluation, or about to get fitted with braces, they often have a lot of questions and, sometimes, concerns. At Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, our board certified doctors do their best to talk to our patients and parents and we certainly invite their questions.
We attempt to explain things in very easy to understand language that even children can understand. While the doctor-parent partnership is very important, it is our deepest desire to make all individual patients comfortable and part of the treatment process as they are the ones going through it.
However, sometimes, information can be a lot and children can be too shy to ask us their questions. So, here are our tips on how to discuss some common questions about orthodontic treatment with your child.
What to expect at the first visit.
The first orthodontic visit is simply “show and tell.” The patient will show us their teeth and facial development, and the orthodontist will simply tell the story about what he or she sees. We will discuss the findings in a very easy to understand manner frequently supported by cartoon animations that help parents and children understand better. At the end of this appointment, a decision will be made to either monitor growth and development or embark on some corrective treatment.
Give your child a voice.
Sometimes, as parents we know what our child needs and what is best for them but all of our children can dig in with stubborness from time to time. This can happen with braces where a child might say “I don’t want to do that.” Try giving them some choices. This can provide them with a measure of control in their treatment. Ask one of our orthodontists about different treatment options. For example, your child might be eligible for Invisalign instead of braces. Or perhaps you can customize with elastic colors and design the color of an expander.
Will it hurt?
There is generally no discomfort at all while in the chair placing braces and even during most adjustment appointments. Patients are likely to feel a little discomfort the first 2-3 days while they’re getting used to the braces and after subsequent adjustments. This is typically addressed with Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Wax can also be applied over scratchy new braces until the cheeks and lips become used to the braces presence.
Managing expectations and preparing children helps.
They’ll be sitting in the dental chair for quite a while (30-45 minutes for an installation appointment). This appointment typically involves placing the brackets on each tooth and then connecting those brackets with a wire. They can pick the colorful elastics that go on top of the brackets if they want.
Patients should expect to come back to get the wires and braces adjusted about every 6 weeks after to continue the straightening process.
Stock up their favorite soft foods.
Mashed potatoes, pasta, cheese, soups, Ice cream and froyo can help make eating easier if the teeth are sore. Let your children pick some of their favorites to help make the transition more fun for them.
Keep wax on hand.
Orthodontic wax, braces wax, or dental wax, goes on top of brackets that rub inside the mouth. Your ortho will give you plenty, and make sure you and your child have it ready at home and in their backpacks, so they can easily apply it when they experience discomfort away from home. All you have to do is dry the offending brace and mush the wax over it. It will stick for a surprisingly long time when applied this way.
Give support and remain positive about braces.
Be sympathetic about their discomfort, but focus on the benefits of their equipment. It’s temporary, but the results will be permanent! It’s most definitely worth it. You might consider a countdown calendar or plan a celebration for when the braces come off!
About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options. We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.