What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a qualified and registered specialist dentist who has completed extra study to become an expert on the way the teeth and jaw line up. This specialist area of dentistry is called orthodontics.
Orthodontists diagnose, treat and prevent problems with the alignment of the teeth and jaw.
Good dental health and habits in the early years lay the foundations for good dental health throughout life. Caring for your child’s teeth and taking your child to see dental specialists in childhood is part of helping your child grow and develop well.
Why your child might see an orthodontist
Your child might see an orthodontist for treatment to bring her teeth and jaw into line with each other. Also, your child might see an orthodontist to improve her bite or how her teeth look – for example, to create a better smile.
It’s important for your child’s teeth and jaw to line up properly. When they don’t, it can cause problems including gum damage, abnormal tooth wear and speech problems. People whose teeth and jaw don’t line up can also have trouble getting their teeth clean, which can be a risk for tooth decay.
Orthodontists use a range of treatments, including braces, plates and head gear.
Your dentist can help you decide about seeing an orthodontist, help you find someone who’s right for your child, and give you a referral.
It’s important for your child to keep having regular check-ups with a dentist, even during orthodontic treatment.
Before going to an orthodontist
Before seeing the orthodontist, it’s a good idea to find out some information about the following:
- Why you’re going: if you’ve been referred to an orthodontist by your dentist, ask your dentist why your child needs to see an orthodontist.
- Possible costs: ask how much appointments and treatment will cost.
- Appointments: do you need to make the first appointment or will the dentist make it for you?
- While you’re waiting: do you need to do anything while you’re waiting for the first appointment, like take your child for X-rays?
It’s a good idea to write down any questions you have, so you don’t forget. Here are some questions you could ask:
- How long will treatment take?
- How often will my child have appointments?
- Will treatment be painful?
- What will my child’s treatment involve? For example, will my child need to have teeth pulled out?
- Are there any foods my child can’t eat if he gets braces?
- Will braces stop my child from playing sport or musical instruments?