6 Ways To Help Parents Ace Orthodontic Interventions for Your Smallest Patients
Mastering Conversations Around Early Orthodontic Interventions
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children receive a professional orthodontic evaluation as early as age 7. By then, they have enough permanent teeth that issues like crowding, irregular spacing, missing teeth, extra teeth, and improper bites are easier to identify.
As you treat your pint-sized patients, you may need to recommend orthodontic interventions if you notice initial signs of malocclusions. However, you may find that parents don’t always act on these recommendations.
They may be hesitant to take that next step for a multitude of reasons. Some might believe that their child will outgrow their current condition. Others may not believe it’s progressed enough to warrant an evaluation at that time.
Today, we’re sharing how to approach these interventions for your smallest patients in a way that’s personable and effective. Here are 6 strategies to try.
1. Educate the parents.
One of the most effective ways to help parents understand the importance of orthodontic treatment is by explaining the issue in a way they can understand. Remember that while you’re well versed in this topic, they may need you to cover it in greater detail so they can grasp its significance and scope.
In addition to sharing information about the current dental problem, take the time to explain the long-term impacts of their child’s malocclusion. You can also explain the many benefits of early orthodontic treatment.
Left untreated, misaligned teeth can lead to a host of issues that affect a child’s appearance, comfort, and overall quality of life. These include:
- Speech issues
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain
- Dental injuries
- Excess tooth wear
- Sleep disturbances
- Low self-confidence
Keep in mind that your goal shouldn’t be to frighten parents into following your advice. However, it is important to help them see the big-picture perspective beyond the immediate need.
2. Talk about what early intervention includes.
Another reason why parents might hesitate to move forward with your recommended orthodontic treatment? They might not understand the specific dental treatments that the intervention will include. Confusion and ambiguity often leads to reluctance and skepticism.
To help calm their concerns, talk about the services you recommend and how they will be performed. This includes an estimated time frame and any necessary sedation, as well as how you’ll track and monitor their child’s progress.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, early orthodontic treatment can take many different forms and will require a customized strategy.
Some dental issues can be corrected early with a removable or fixed appliance, such as a retainer or braces, which can gently reposition teeth, hold teeth in place, or change the position of a child’s jaw. Other times, an extraction may be the most effective first step.
If they know exactly what to expect, parents are normally more willing to listen to the next steps and consider taking them.
3. Explain the purpose of early orthodontics in saving money and avoiding discomfort down the road.
Sometimes, parents hesitate to move forward with early orthodontic interventions due to concerns about the time and money that the treatment requires.
This gives you an opportunity to explain that addressing these issues before they develop into bigger problems can save them a significant amount of time and money down the road.
Early orthodontics capitalizes on the child’s growing bones by intercepting any arising issues, guiding their growth, and creating enough room for the incoming permanent teeth. This approach helps prevent overcrowding or misalignment.
Phase 1 orthodontics is highly successful, resulting in some patients not requiring Phase 2 treatments and saving families significantly on associated costs.
4. Ask about their concerns or questions.
After you’ve explained how the recommended treatment will go, allow plenty of time to answer any questions that parents may have. Remember that as their trusted family dentist, you’re their go-to resource for their child’s dental health.
Whether you’re performing the services yourself in-office or referring them to a local orthodontic specialist, parents want your reassurance and support.
In addition to sharing your knowledge and expertise, you’re also there to be a source of compassion for each of your patients. They should feel comfortable sharing their concerns with you, knowing that you’ll respond in a patient, professional manner.
5. Add orthodontics to your office to streamline treatment.
If you aren’t currently offering orthodontics at your office, parents may be especially wary about moving forward with a recommended treatment plan. After all, they’ve grown comfortable with your practice and so has their child. Asking them to see an outside provider could add even more worry and stress to the situation.
Not only do they have to contend with the emotions involved in following a referral, but they must also consider logistics. They’ll need to travel to a new location and navigate an unfamiliar environment, all while potentially trying to console their child.
Considering all of these factors, it’s easy to see why many parents are more willing to pursue treatment if they don’t have to go to that extra effort.
Addressing this accessibility challenge is one of the top reasons why it’s smart for general and pediatric dentists to specialize in orthodontics. If you’re interested in adding this specialty to your services, you can sign up for one of our orthodontic courses for general and pediatric dentists today!
6. Share past cases.
Choosing to practice orthodontics in your office is one way to make treatment easier for the parents and patients you serve. In addition, it allows you to build up a collection of past cases, which you can use to help direct future interventions.
Of course, you can’t discuss the confidential details of each treatment. But you can show before and after pictures of the patients as long as you have their permission to do so.
Visual details are often easier to understand and make a bigger impression than words alone. This is because images provide context to help people understand complicated concepts. In fact, research shows that 65% of the population are visual learners, meaning they respond best to pictures, videos, and other forms of visual media.
Fine-tune your approach to early orthodontic interventions.
Early orthodontic interventions can prevent malocclusions from developing into bigger problems. Yet we understand that parents may have some initial concerns. They want to make sure they’re making the best decision for their little one, and they’re looking to you for guidance.
These tips can help you get your message across and ease their minds. One of the most effective approaches is to offer orthodontics directly at your practice!
At Synergy Orthodontic Seminars, we’re here to help you make that transition. Click here to discover which one of our orthodontics continuing education (CE) courses is right for you!