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Children’s braces, a dentist or an orthodontist?

Children’s braces, with a dentist, or an orthodontist, and why?

The Orthodontic Adviser gets 100’s of enquiries based around a simple question about children’s braces, with a dentist, or see an orthodontist? The Australian Society of orthodontics has a great guide on their website about the best age to see an orthodontist, being 8-10 years old. But who do you see first, where do you get advice, do you need a referral, will your dentist be able to do it, will an orthodontist be really expensive?

“Joan” rang the other day after already seeing her family dentist of over 10 years, for her child’s orthodontic treatment. The dentist had already warned “Joan” that seeing an orthodontist will be twice the price, and alternatively she could get “good” treatment from the family dentist. When we talked with “Joan” we discussed some general options, we didn’t advise her not go ahead with her dentist, but to at least get a second opinion from an orthodontist. She didn’t need a referral and if she explained to the orthodontist that she had already had a consultation with her dentist, her initial consultation may be discounted or free. We recommended a few around the area, and gave her some guidelines (If you haven’t already, check out our other blog 10 simple questions to ask your doctor.) on how to choose her orthodontist; they should be suitably qualified, you should feel comfortable with the practice (visit’s are every few months, over 1-2 years), location and affordability.

“Joan” has now had her first consultation with an orthodontist, but is now going to see a second orthodontist, she thought the travel was too far for the first one she saw, but was far more comfortable with the level of experience and the different options offered to her child who is 13 years old. At this first consultation it was explained to her that if she had seen the orthodontist just 2 years earlier, they may have just had phase 1 treatment, instead of now needing full fixed appliances (braces) and a reverse pull head gear.

The price between the dentist and orthodontist came in around the same amount, but she saw real value in the experience her child would have and how comfortable the orthodontist made her and her child feel. Getting orthodontics at any age, whether young or old, is an important decision, and its not a product you buy, but a service that you will invest in. Its important to remember that an orthodontist will only straighten teeth, every single day and will normally see 100+ patients in a week. If you do see a dentist, your first question should be, “how many orthodontic cases do you do a year?”

We always recommend seeing an orthodontist, and for peace of mind it may be worth seeing two, you wont need a referral, and with children they will be able to give you a plan of when and what the next steps maybe, and it’s not always full orthodontic treatment. Timing of treatment is just as important, the earlier you see them the better they can plan your child’s treatment. Don’t wait too long before seeing an orthodontist, while children at the age of 7-8 may seem young, it may save you time and money in the future.

How do you feel when you smile?

“When I smile, I know my teeth aren’t straight, so I smile with my mouth closed. I always feel awkward in photos, my confidence has left me and I just don’t know where to start.”
Sue, 33, VIC

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