Children braces and Orthodontics

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If your child has crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw, talk to his dentist. She may recommend seeing an orthodontist.

An orthodontist specializes in perfecting smiles using orthodontic appliances, such as:

  • Bands
  • Brackets
  • Wires
  • Headgear
  • Rubber bands
  • Retainers
  • Clear aligners 

Some kids can’t wait to get their Children’s braces, seeing them as a sign that their teen years can’t be far behind. Others, though, worry about what they’ll feel or look like.

However, your child feels, you probably have some questions and concerns of your own about Children’s braces (including how you’re going to pay for them!). Here’s the lowdown on kids and braces.

we will take a look at common forms of orthodontics and gives you the facts you need to make an informed decision about orthodontic treatment.

Why Kids Need Braces

Kids can need braces for any number of reasons, including crooked, overlapping, or overcrowded teeth, or a “bad bite” (known as malocclusion). Malocclusion is when there’s a difference in the sizes of the top and bottom jaws. When the upper jaw is bigger than the lower jaw, it’s called an overbite. When the lower jaw is bigger, it’s called an underbite.

Sometimes tooth and jaw problems can be caused by losing baby teeth too soon, accidents, or habits like thumb sucking. But often they’re inherited, so if you or someone in your family needed braces, it’s likely that your kids will, too.

Often, your child’s dentist will be the first to notice problems during a regular visit and recommend that you see an orthodontist (a dentist who specializes in correcting jaw and/or teeth alignment problems). The orthodontist can decide whether your child does indeed need braces and which devices would be best.

There’s no set age for a child’s first orthodontist visit — some kids go when they’re 6, some kids go when they’re 10, and some go while they’re teens. Even adults can need orthodontic treatment. Many orthodontists say kids should see an orthodontist once their permanent teeth start coming in, around age 7. At this age, issues such as uneven bite and overcrowding will become apparent.

Starting the process early doesn’t mean a child will get braces right away. It just means the orthodontist will be able to find problems and decide the best time to start treatment.

What’s the youngest a child can get braces?

There is no set age when children require orthodontics. The treatment plan will depend on individual needs. For example, kids with cleft palates get orthodontic appliances before their first teeth erupt.

Other kids may benefit from starting treatment as early as age 6 or 7, even if they have not lost all of their baby teeth. The goal of early treatment is to prevent further problems from developing. It will create a better environment for the permanent teeth to erupt, or grow, into.

Most kids who require early orthodontics will still need braces or additional work later to complete the tooth and jaw alignment process. But the amount of work may be significantly less if orthodontic treatment was completed early.

The First Orthodontist Visit

At the first visit, the orthodontist will thoroughly examine your child’s teeth, mouth, and jaw. He or she may ask your child to bite the teeth together and may also ask questions about whether your child has problems chewing or swallowing, or has ever had clicking or popping of the jaw.

The orthodontist may take X-rays of the mouth and teeth to see how the teeth are positioned and whether any permanent teeth still need to come in. He or she also may make a mold (or impression) of your child’s teeth by pressing a tray of gooey material into the top and bottom teeth. When the mold is removed and the material hardens, the result is a replica of your child’s teeth that will allow the orthodontist to decide which treatment options are best.

Types of Braces and Other Appliances

There are several dental appliances used today. But braces are still the primary means for straightening teeth and correcting misaligned bites in children. Braces work by applying pressure to the teeth and jaws to move them into the desired position.

Braces are not the shiny mouthful of metal of years past. Many more options are now available.

Teeth used to be fully banded. But today, brackets are bonded directly to each tooth‘s surface. 

Braces are made of materials such as:

  • Stainless steel
  • Ceramic
  • Plastic
  • Combination of materials

This can give a clear or tooth-colored appearance to the braces. When appropriate, the wires can be made of materials such as nickel-titanium or copper-titanium. These materials may be longer-lasting and require fewer adjustments than stainless steel wires.

Clear, invisible “trays” are now available. These can straighten teeth without using traditional braces and wires.

Invisible trays may be an option for some people who require orthodontic work. This method uses custom-made, clear, removable trays that put pressure on the teeth, moving them gradually into their correct position. 

Other appliances used in orthodontics include:

TADs: Temporary anchorage devices (TADs) are mini-screws ranging from 6 to 12 millimeters in length and 1.2 to 2 millimeters in diameter. When needed they may be temporarily fixed to bone in the mouth to provide a fixed point from which to apply force to move teeth. TADs allow for more predictable tooth control. They are becoming more common in orthodontic treatment.

Rubber bands: Rubber bands are also called elastics. They are used when more force is needed to move the teeth and jaws into the desired position. You can choose your favorite color. Many kids choose their school colors or decorate their mouths during holidays (for example, orange and black for Halloween).

Headgear: Some people can benefit from using headgear. The appliance is attached to the braces from the back of the head and can be removed. As with rubber bands, headgear is used when extra force is needed to move the teeth and jaws. If the headgear is needed, it usually only has to be worn at night while sleeping or at home.

Retainers: Retainers are used to keep teeth in place once braces are removed. It takes time for your teeth to settle into their new position. By wearing a retainer, you can prevent your teeth from shifting. Some retainers may be removable. Others are fixed — bonded behind your teeth. Some retainers are made of clear plastic and metal wires. Others are made of rubber. And like braces, retainers can make a statement if you choose. There are glow-in-the-dark retainers or retainers customized with a picture.

What foods are off-limits for kids who wear braces?

Braces are delicate. Breaking part of the appliance can result in the teeth moving in the wrong direction and longer treatment. Anything hard, sticky, or chewy should not be eaten, including:

  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Hard candy
  • Chewing gum
  • Chewy candy, like caramel
  • Gummies

How long does my child need to wear braces?

The length of treatment varies. It depends on the problem, how well your child cooperates, and your child’s growth. Typically, most people wear braces from 18 to 36 months.

How long does my child need to wear a retainer?

Ideally, your child should wear a retainer forever, even if it is only one night a week. Of course, this may not be practical. The teeth are like the rest of the body and the body changes. Once your child stops wearing the retainer, slight changes to the teeth should be expected.

There are many options available. When choosing a treatment plan, you need to consider many factors, including the orthodontic needs, cost, and primary goals of treatment. Your dentist or orthodontist can help you make the right decision for you and your child.

Resources:

kidshealth.org

webmd.com

We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.