For some kids, getting braces seems like taking one step closer to adulthood. Others might feel that braces act as a social stigma that will cause them to become the source of teasing from other kids. However your child feels about the idea of getting braces, he or she will certainly have question and concerns, not to mention how you might feel as the parent. To help you and your child feel more comfortable about getting braces, here’s what you need to know about kids and braces from the experts at Senestraro Family Orthodontics.
Why Kids Need Braces
Kids require braces for a variety of reasons. The most common conditions that necessitate a child get braces include overcrowding, overlapping, misaligned bite, or to realign crooked teeth. Malocclusion, a condition that causes a discrepancy in the sizes of the top and bottom jaws, is also another common reason children need braces.
Fortunately, your child’s dentist can usually spot at an early age whether he will need braces when older. Unless your dentist specializes in the field, you’ll probably be referred to an orthodontist, a dentist that exclusively deals with correcting teeth and jaw alignments, to begin your child’s treatment.
No age limit is set for when children can make their first orthodontist visit, as some children go at the young age of six, while others don’t start receiving treatment until their teens. However, most orthodontist recommend parents hold off on braces for their child until all of her adult teeth have formed, which generally occurs by the age of seven. By this age, orthodontic issues such as a misaligned or uneven bite will become apparent.
Just because your child checks in at an early age doesn’t mean he’ll start undergoing treatment immediately. After an initial examination to assess the issue, your orthodontist will determine the best age to start treatment. This first visit my involve a detailed examination of your child’s jaw, mouth, and teeth, and a series of questions about whether your child experiences any problems swallowing or chewing or if he hears popping or clicking of the jaw.
Your dentist may also need to take x-rays of your child’s mouth to determine the positioning of teeth and which, if any, adult teeth still need forming. If your child’s adult teeth have formed, your orthodontist may elect to make a mold of his teeth. When this mold hardens, it will help enable your orthodontist to determine which treatment option is right for your child.
Types of Braces
Braces correct tooth and jaw alignment by placing light but steady pressure, which eventually causes a move back into a straighter position.
The majority of kids need simple braces that feature metal wires and rubber bands. The wires serve the purpose of helping the teeth shift into position, while the rubber bands aid with alignment correction by providing the force required. However, the days of a child looking like a “metal mouth” have come and gone when it comes to the types of braces offered. While traditional stainless steel braces are still the most commonly used and least expensive option, parents and kids now have a variety of less visible options available.
Ceramic braces are designed to blend in with your child’s natural tooth color and appear far less noticeably than metallic braces. However, ceramic braces do possess a higher cost and have a tendency to need more repairs as the materials used break far more frequently in comparison.
Children with minor bite corrections may be eligible to wear clear, removable plastic mouth guards called aligners that move the position of teeth without the use of wires or rubber bands. Because the aligners used are clear and the treatment requires no additional equipment, this type of correction is often referred to as “invisible braces.” While this type of treatment does make getting braces less socially traumatic for kids, aligners cost more than other traditional methods.
How long your child will need to wear her braces depends on the severity of the condition being corrected. Minor realignments treatable with aligners can be completed in 12 to 16 months, while fixed braces generally require two years to complete treatment. Your orthodontist will be able to give an approximate idea of how long treatment will take following the initial consultation.
Children with braces in Sellwood, Portland need to pay special attention to maintaining their oral hygiene. Since food particles can become easily trapped in and around the bracket used to hold braces into position, brushing and flossing after meals is vital to prevent the development of tooth decay and gum disease. Paying to correct your child’s smile makes little sense if his teeth become badly damaged by decay during the treatment, so parents need to stress the importance of practicing daily oral hygiene. Your orthodontist will provide tips on the best ways to keep braces clean and which foods to avoid during treatment.