3 Secret Thoughts of Your Child’s Orthodontist
posted by: Lori Holden
I’ve spent some quality time with our orthodontist lately (one kid has gotten braces off, one kids is still in treatment, and I myself am sporting the silver). I asked Dr. Deepa Vyas to tell me three secret things she wishes her patients would know and do.
Follow Our Instructions
Why is it important to follow directions? Dr. Vyas explains it’s not because orthodontists are super-controlling. “We want you to stay on track and meet the goal of getting your braces off at the target time.”
What can slow things down? Not following directions.
Take, for example, rubber bands. I got to spend a month yoking my top jaw to my bottom jaw to correct a malocclusion (an open bite).
My instructions were simple and clear:
- Keep the bands on 24/7, except during meals and brushing.
- Change the bands about every 4 hours so they keep the right tension.
I know I should do this because I watched as one of my kiddo’s treatments stalled due to not wearing the bands consistently. That child’s treatment will be months longer than we originally thought.
Hopefully not years (the jury’s still out).
The Fee Is All-Inclusive (of the Firsts, Anyway)
While the orthodontist’s fee may at first seem hefty (at least a few thousand dollars), it is typically inclusive of almost everything:
- labor and technology, such as periodic assessments that involve photos, x-rays, and measurements
- appliances like a head gear or a set of retainers (or maybe even two — one made of clear plastic and another, more durable, that holds with a wire)
But if your child disregards advice to stay away from sticky foods and hard, crunchy foods, or can’t quite keep his/her fingers from picking at brackets, you may end up paying for additional parts and service. Not, as Dr Vyas explains, to recover the cost of replacing hardware (it doesn’t) but to change the behavior.
I can attest that this strategy works! One of my teens lost so many brackets due to eating offending foods that Dr Vyas finally had to put the money where the mouth was: the patient would have to pay to replace future brackets.
My teen never lost another one.
Stay Clean, But Don’t Brush Too Hard
Orthodontists want you to find that Goldilocks spot — brush well and often but never too hard. If you don’t brush well and often, you could end up with permanent decalcification spots, which later bleaching won’t help. These chalky patches of plaque build up in areas that are hard to reach because of the orthodontia. So it’s important to have really good oral hygiene during treatment.
Your orthodontist is hoping the patient will spend a little more time getting into the nooks and crannies so that when the braces come off, the person’s smile is dazzling in all ways. A fluoride rinse can also help prevent decalcification through remineralization (check with your orthodontist for precise instructions).
Brushing too hard can lead to gum recession, which becomes a more pressing issues the older the patient is. Ahem.
For more information on Dr Vyas, who serves families in Arvada, Golden, Westminster and Wheat Ridge, visit her Facebook page or website. To find an orthodontist near you, visit the American Association of Orthodontists at mylifemysmile.org.
In partnership with Mile High Mamas
Lori Holden, has worn quite a path to the orthodontist’s office over the years. She is mom to a teen daughter and a teen son and she blogs from Denver at LavenderLuz.com. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available in paperback, hard cover, audio and e-book versions. It makes a thoughtful gift for the adoptive families in your life.