Birmingham Mom Collective is excited to welcome back Dr. Maggie Law to discuss your child’s first orthodontist visit. If you’ve been putting it off for awhile, read on to see why now just might be the perfect time to make that initial appointment!
When To Go and What to Expect
While the American Association of Orthodontics recommends that first orthodontist visit occur around age seven, Dr. Maggie feels like age eight is the sweet spot if a child needs early treatment. By this time, most children have their front four permanent top and bottom teeth in their mouth. This allows her to look at their bite relationship, which is a fancy way of saying how their top and bottom teeth come together.
One of the most important things Dr. Maggie does at the initial complimentary consultation is to take a big x-ray (also called panoramic x-ray) of the child’s teeth. This is so important because it lets her know if:
- kids are missing any permanent teeth (which is actually very common),
- if the teeth are growing in the right way, and
- how crowded or spaced the child’s teeth are. It’s really important in helping her make treatment decisions.
Dr. Maggie tries to avoid braces in younger children when she can. As a mom herself, she knows firsthand that it’s a lot of work having to brush and floss children’s teeth–much less with braces!
If you’re tempted to continue holding off past eight, Dr. Maggie says she would never recommend going later; later is not better. If everything on your child looks normal, she will usually bring them back to the office in 6 to 12 months to monitor their dental eruption and development. These are all quick, simple, and complimentary visits.
The Initial Consultation
The initial consultation lasts about an hour. You and your child will first meet with the Treatment Coordinator. She will take a really cool 3-D scan of your child’s teeth. The scan allows Dr. Maggie a great view of the mouth which she then gets to show your child on the big TV monitors in her consult rooms when she comes in to chitchat.
Dr. Maggie loves being able to point out what she’s seeing in your child’s mouth (and your child will enjoy seeing the scans, too)!
The Treatment Coordinator also takes two x-rays. Don’t panic–they are big x-rays and your child won’t have to bite down on anything small in his or her mouth. After that, she takes three pictures of your child smiling and two pictures of just the teeth!
It’s all super easy and only takes about 20 minutes to collect all this information. It allows Dr. Maggie to have all the details so she can make an accurate diagnosis and decision about treatment plans! After that, she will do a quick exam of your child’s teeth and mouth with just a little mouth mirror before going over everything she sees!
Will My Child Need Braces Twice?
Many parents are concerned if braces are needed in early childhood that they will need braces a second time during puberty. But Dr. Maggie assures us that not all kids need braces twice. She only had braces one time!
Dr. Maggie thinks knowledge is power, and everyone is more aware of the importance of dental health these days. Dentists are referring patients earlier to the orthodontist so certain things aren’t missed.
Whenever she does recommend early or ‘Phase I’ treatment for a child, it is for a very specific reason. One of the main things she corrects early in children is a something called a “crossbite,” and it is treated with something called an “expander.” Any mom who has kids age eight or nine has definitely heard the term “expander” from her own kids or her kids’ friends.
There are certain dental problems that are much easier corrected in a growing eight year old than a 13 year old teenager. In addition, Dr. Maggie can guide the teeth to grow into the mouth in a more favorable position with early treatment. And if your child happens to need braces again as a teenager, it’s usually for a shorter amount of time.
Calming Those First Time Jitters
It’s completely normal for children to have jitters when trying something new, and Dr. Maggie takes that into a account. That’s why her office uses the “tell, show, do” strategy.
She tells the patient what she is going to do first, then she shows the patient, and then she does it. Dr. Maggie tells all children that they can ask ANY questions that they want. If they ever need a break, all they have to do is raise their left hand, and she and her staff will stop everything.
Many pediatric dentists in the area have referred their patients with dental anxiety to Dr. Maggie because of her calm and sweet demeanor. Dr. Maggie’s whole team is just like her, and her staff treats these little ones like family. They have always gotten good feedback from parents about how they couldn’t believe how easy the visits are!
Traditional Braces vs. Invisalign in Adolescents
When I was growing up, our only orthodontic option was, “What color bracket rubber bands do you want this month: orange and black for Halloween? Or your favorite team colors?!” Ha! But orthodontics have come a long way since then. In fact, children and teens are even eligible for Invisalign Aligners!
Dr. Maggie says most children are a candidate for this type of treatment. Her favorite reason for choosing this appliance for children is because dental hygiene is SO EASY with Invisalign. It’s just as easy to brush and floss your teeth with the Invisalign as it is with your regular teeth.
Most parents are skeptical that their child will wear it full time (the required 20 to 22 hours per day), but she has not found that to be a problem in her experience. Especially with the younger kids, they are good listeners and still do what their parents tell them. Plus, Invisalign is much more comfortable than traditional braces since there are no pokey wires or loose brackets.
Another reason Dr. Maggie is a fan of Invisalign for her young patients is because she realizes just how busy everyone is these days. Her Invisalign patients come into her office less frequently because she’s able to customize the treatment so much on the front end. It makes the visits in office much shorter, more comfortable, and quicker.
Parents always ask Dr. Maggie if braces have changed since they had them. Braces have not changed all that much, but being able to use Invisalign Clear Aligners has. It’s a total game-changer in her practice.
For those who prefer to go the traditional route, rest assured she still has plenty of metal and clear braces patients, too! Sometimes the kids just want to have fun, colored braces, and Dr. Maggie totally gets that. She loved her hot pink braces as a teenager (and who wouldn’t love to see a picture of that)?!