For children, and even some adults, trying new things is a frightening proposition, even if it is good for us. At times, the media has reinforced these fears instead of trying to allay them. Seeing a dentist has long been a source of humor as children watch their favorite television characters fret over an upcoming appointment.

However, these fears are unfounded and it has been said that a little education can go a long way to assuaging one’s fear of the unknown. Perhaps this list of fun facts can help reduce your child’s fear of a trip to the orthodontist.

smiling boy gets checkup from his orthodontist

1. He isn’t your regular dentist.

An orthodontist is more than just a dentist. These experts in the diagnoses, prevention, and repair of facial irregularities have special training that they use to straighten teeth, correct bite problems, and align the upper and lower jaws.

2. He will treat you or your parents.

While most patients begin their orthodontic care at a young age, some adults also choose to have their smiles corrected through the use of braces, headgear, and other devices. Some orthodontists specialize in treating either children or adults, but this is not always the case.

3. Only 5% of dentists are orthodontists.

Not all dentists can repair your crooked teeth, speech impairments, or dental injury. On the other hand, all orthodontists are qualified to act as your general dental practitioner. Very few dentists choose to receive the training necessary to treating malocclusions and problems with the jaw.

4. You will see him after your braces are removed.

You are probably going to see your orthodontist on a regular basis for several years while receiving treatment. Braces require checkups every five weeks or so, but their removal is not the end of your treatment. Retainer appointments are necessary to lock in the changes the braces have made to your mouth.

5. Orthodontists are good at science.

Being an orthodontist is a lot like being a doctor and the medical treatment requires knowledge of science. Those thinking about a career in orthodontics are strongly encouraged to take courses in biology, physics, chemistry, and anatomy.

6. They attend at least 10 years of college.

Science is just one small part of a very long education for future orthodontists. Yours will have obtained a four-year undergraduate degree before moving to another four-year program to become a dentist. Then, to become an orthodontist, your provider sought yet another two to four years of training.

7. Yours is one of at least 8,000 nationwide.

As of May 2010, there were more than 8,000 orthodontists licensed in the United States and their numbers have been expected to grow. Experts believe there could be nearly 10,000 practicing orthodontist by the year 2020.

8. He owns his business.

Being an orthodontist is not a regular job. There is no time clock and those in the field often provide emergency and after-hours care for their patients. Orthodontists are in charge of their own calendars, paying company bills, and filing their own income taxes. They may hire people to do these things, but as business owners, these are their responsibility.

9. Their work dates back to Egyptian mummies.

Archeologists have found evidence that the use of braces can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt. However, this isn’t really a surprise when you remember that the Egyptian people were leaders in science and technology. Their development and use of makeup is another connection to a desire for nice smiles.

10. The field became a specialty in 1900.

Though ancient cultures may have dabbled in the art of orthodontia, the field didn’t really take hold until the 19th century. The first device was a form of headgear that fastened to the jaws of patients from the outside of their mouths in order to apply pressure on the teeth.

Young or old, and regardless of your reasons for seeking the help of an orthodontist, there is no reason to be nervous. These highly-trained professionals work in a tried-and-true field with proven practices. Your orthodontist wants to take care of you, not scare you away from the chance to have a beautiful smile.