Getting Braces: How to Find an Orthodontist You Can Trust

Beautiful braces smileFirst things first: I hope you had a wonderful holiday. My 9-year-old daughter, Kate, believes in Santa, so the last couple of weeks at the end of the year were filled with wonderful anticipation (“Will he bring me a Harry Potter wand?”) and good behavior (the Santa card is better than any time-out chair). Speaking of magical creatures that leave presents, Kate is also fond of her visits from the tooth fairy. And that brings me to what I’d love to share with you today.

I wasn’t prepared for what happened at her pediatric dentist’s office recently during a routine cleaning. Her dentist checked the teeth for cavities (none – yay!), put on a couple of sealants, told her she needs to floss a little better (we’re working on that), and then the surprise: She handed me a couple of business cards for local orthodontists. I must have stood there with my mouth wide open, but words weren’t coming out. What was in my head: My kid has lots of baby teeth left! Why on Earth would she need to see an orthodontist now? The dentist suggested that Kate get a consultation before her next visit – and then got called away for an emergency.

I’m sure I could have phoned the dentist the next day to follow up, but I hit the Web instead. And I found out that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids see an orthodontist by age 7 to check for crowded teeth or misaligned bites. The crowded-teeth issue actually rang a bell; I remember from previous visits that Kate’s dentist suspected that her mouth might be too small for her big-kid chompers. But I was still feeling uneasy because I’ve heard from my friends who have older kids that you can go to three orthodontists and get three different opinions. So I decided to call Ted Sherwin, a family dentist in Orange, Va., and spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry, for some straight answers.

Sherwin acknowledged that it can be difficult for parents to reconcile the treatment recommendations from various orthodontists, but he also pointed out: “There is more than one path to successful results.” Hmm. Sherwin added that an orthodontist recommendation from a family dentist you trust is golden. And you don’t have to stop there. After a little more digging, I found that, an independent website, allows patients to comment on the medical or dental care they receive from a particular practitioner.

As it turned out, one of the business cards Kate’s dentist handed me was for an orthodontist that my friend had also recommended. With two thumbs up, it seemed smart to try him first. We’ve got an appointment in a few weeks.

In the meantime, Kate is eagerly anticipating another visit from the tooth fairy. “Do you think that instead of giving me money, she can get Daniel Radcliffe to call me?” asked Kate. My response: “No, sweetie, the tooth fairy doesn’t take special requests.”

Related Posts

About the Author

Karen Cicero is a health and nutrition writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience. She has written health articles for such national publications as Prevention, SHAPE, Health, Fitness, SELF and Cooking Light. She has also edited the dental column for Heart & Soul magazine and is the co-author of Kitchen Counter Cures.


6 Responses to “Getting Braces: How to Find an Orthodontist You Can Trust”

  1. My seven year old had to have a crown put on yesterday and we were notified that they can tell already that he’ll need braces when he’s older and warned that his teeth are so close together there’s no room for adult teeth to come in without them pushing each other out. I feel so bad for the kid, I was lucky enough to have great teeth!

  2. I had no idea that children need to see the orthodontist by age 7 to check for crowded teeth. My daughter is 5 and I will definitely have to remember to take her to to the orthodontist in a couple years. I wouldn’t want to find out too late that she may need braces. Thank you for this helpful information!

  3. Hazel Owens says:

    I was surprised at the recommendation is for kids to first see the orthodontist by age seven. I didn’t see an orthodontist until I needed braces as a pre-teen! I do like your dentist’s advice that “there is more than one path to successful results,” because it takes a bit off the pressure off of choosing the right person to go to. As long as they know what they’re doing, any orthodontist’s recommendation will probably be helpful. Thanks for the article.

  4. I was referred to an orthodontist when my son was 10 and I thought that was young. I guess it is easier when they start them early. That is an interesting website I will have to check it out. I know my youngest is going to need braces also and we have moved away from our former orthodontist.

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      Thanks Kenneth! Glad we could provide some helpful information! We appreciate your stopping by and letting us know! Please come back any time 🙂

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!