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First Orthodontist Visit 101

Submitted by on February 19, 2012 – 12:36 pmOne Comment

by Kerrie McLoughlin

Braces Mom & Daughter

Just when you think you have everything down as a parent, I come along and tell you it might be time to take your child to his first orthodontist visit. Most orthodontists say it’s best to see children by age 7 to advise if treatment is required and the best time for treatment to start. Basically, the earlier any treatment is started, the easier it will be to correct problems in the long run. What better time than now – Dental Health Month – to schedule that first appointment?

There are many different reasons for kids to need orthodontic care, including overbite, underbite, crowded teeth or overlapping teeth. Some of these problems could be caused by things like thumb sucking, accidents or tooth decay or can even be inherited. Benefits of having straight teeth include: easier maintenance, which can prevent cavities; preventing wear on the surfaces of teeth; too much stress on supportive teeth bones and gum tissue; and problems with jaw joints which can lead to headaches.

Your child’s first trip to the orthodontist (who has 2-3 years more education than your family dentist) is nothing to be feared. At your child’s first visit (about 45 minutes in length), the pain-free examination will probably include digital photos, an X-ray and an evaluation. A mold of his teeth may need to be taken. Your child may end up needing no orthodontic care for a few years, if at all.

These days there are so many different options for orthodontic care. One mom says her 9-year-old son wears a “retainer that I can adjust at home myself weekly, which saves a lot of time going into the office. The goal is to get some teeth moved before he needs braces and might even prevent the need for braces.” Her 7-year-old son wears a permanent spacer to make it easier on him if he needs braces in the future.

Braces are, of course, a possibility, and they have come a long way. Your child can get clear, gold or tooth-colored braces instead of just silver metal. You can choose the color of the ties that hold the wire in brackets. You could even decide to choose Invisalign, which is like a set of clear retainers (changed about every 2 weeks) that can be removed for eating, drinking, brushing and flossing.

If your child does end up needing braces or some other device, she need not be limited. She can still play sports and musical instruments (may take a little practice at first), and can even have the occasional soda (brush afterward!).

While kids used to dread the prospect of braces, now many of them actually look forward to it. It’s completely worthwhile in the end when they see their beautiful new smile!

Foods to avoid when you have braces:

  • Chewy foods like bagels, hard rolls, licorice
  • Crunchy foods like popcorn, ice, chips
  • Sticky foods like caramels and gum
  •  Hard foods like nuts and candy
  •  Foods you have to bite into like corn on the cob, apples, carrots

Helpful Web Sites:


American Association of Orthodontists

American Board of Orthodontics

Kerrie McLoughlin ( smiles at her kids all the time using teeth that used to don braces.

Image Credit:


One Comment »

  • Susan says:

    I still have horrible memories of my days at the orthodontist 25-30 years ago. After doing all the “pre-work” the orthodontist suggested would help me avoid braces, I needed them anyway. I had to have ten teeth pulled to make room in my small mouth and wore several different appliances – including one that had a key to try to expand my jaw.

    I highly recommend parents take a look at this page: and read up on the work of American dentist, Weston A. Price.

    We’ve been following many of the foundation’s suggestions for nutrient dense diet over the last two years. We have eliminated all processed and artificial foods from our diet. While several children in my daughter’s class are already wearing braces, my daughter’s dentist said her mouth looks great – no signs of needing to talk to an orthodontist – and seems to look better with each visit. I hope it stays that way!

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