While some children can’t wait to get braces, viewing them as a sign that adolescence and adulthood are right around the corner, others worry about how their braces will feel or how they’ll look.
How ever your child feels, you will most likely have some questions and concerns of your own. So you can have a better understanding of what’s in store for your child, here’s what every parent needs to know about kids and braces.
Why Kids Need Braces
Kids can require braces for a variety of reasons, including overcrowded, overlapping or crooked teeth, or malocclusion, a condition commonly referred to as “bad bite.” Malocclusion occurs when a discrepancy exists between the sizes of a child’s top and bottom jaws. When the upper jaw forms bigger than the lower jaw, a condition called an overbite occurs. When the lower jaw grows bigger, a child develops an underbite.
Occasionally, jaw and tooth problems can be the result of tooth decay, losing baby teeth at too young an age, an accident or a prolonged habit such as thumb- or lip-sucking. In most cases, however, the need for braces is simply inherited, so if you or someone in your family needed braces, chances are your kids will as well.
In most instances, your child’s family dentist will first notice problems beginning to occur with your child’s oral development and recommend that you visit with Dr. Senestraro and his experienced and friendly orthodontic staff. Dr. Senestraro will then examine your child’s teeth to determine whether she needs braces and which types of orthodontic devices would best treat her oral condition.
Don’t worry about scheduling your child’s first visit with Dr. Senestraro by a certain age. Some kids go at the age of six, while other don’t arrive at our office until the age of 11 or 12. Some might not even arrive until they’re well into their teens. No set age limit exists for when a child needs to visit an orthodontist, but most kids should ideally have their oral health examined by an orthodontist by the time their permanent teeth begin to emerge, typically around the age of seven. At this age, typical issues like overcrowding or an uneven bite will become obvious during an examination by Dr. Senestraro.
Starting the orthodontic process early doesn’t necessarily mean your child will get braces at an early age, however. It just provides Dr. Senestraro with an opportunity to determine whether a potential problem exists and to plan out the best course of treatment for your child.
Types of Braces
Braces correct patients’ alignment problems by applying steady pressure on their teeth, which eventually shifts teeth into a straighter, healthier position.
Most children require braces that use rubber bands and wires. The rubber bands help to correct alignment, while the wires help to shift the teeth into position. While metal braces are still commonly used, many children prefer white ceramic braces that appear clear and are therefore much less noticeable than metallic braces. Some types – lingual braces – are applied behind a patient’s teeth, making them all but unnoticeable to those not looking closely.
In recent years, clear removable braces that shift teeth with plastic trays called aligners – such as Invisalign – have become widely popular, but these types are usually only for patients without a bite problem.
Once your child receives his braces, you’ll need to continue visiting Dr. Senestraro every couple of weeks for adjustments and monitoring.
How long your child will need to wear his braces depends on the type of bite correction Dr. Senestraro is trying to make, but most treatments average two years in duration. Once your child’s braces are removed, he might need to wear a specially molded retainer to help keep his teeth from shifting back out of position.
Taking Care of Braces
Food can easily get stuck in the wires most braces use, so your child will need to take extra care of her oral hygiene to prevent the onset of tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing after meals is vitally important, as is flossing at least once a day. You also need to schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings for your child during treatment.
While wearing braces, your child should avoid eating certain types of foods, such as hard candy, gum and popcorn, as they can cause damage to the braces. Beverages high in sugar, such as sweetened fruit juices and sodas, can also cause problems, as they increase your child’s risk of developing tooth decay. A child who wears clear plastic aligners should always remember to remove them prior to eating.
Due to the pressure braces apply on your child’s teeth, they can occasionally cause feelings of discomfort, especially after Dr. Senestraro makes an adjustment. The use of over-the-counter pain medication can help to alleviate this discomfort.
Make sure to schedule an appointment with orthodontist in Portland, Oregon Dr. Senestraro immediately should your child break a bracket or wire, or if a wire starts poking her mouth.
If you have any other questions regarding your child’s braces, feel free to ask Dr. Senestraro during your next appointment.