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What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a qualified, 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.

Why your child might see an orthodontist

Your child might see an orthodontist for treatment to help bring her teeth and jaw into line with each other. Also, your child might see an orthodontist to improve his bite or how his 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 jaws don't line up 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.

You don't need a referral to see an orthodontist. Your dentist can help you decide about seeing an orthodontist and help you find someone who's right for your child.

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 to the orthodontist: if you've been referred to an orthodontist by your dentist, talk with your dentist about why your child needs to see an orthodontist.
  • Possible costs and waiting times: you can discuss how much your appointment will cost and how long you'll have to wait when you call to make an appointment with the orthodontist's clinic.

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?