If you think your child might need braces, make an appointment with your dentist to discuss your concerns.
Having straight teeth and a beautiful smile is something that we all want for our children. However, many parents have misconceptions about the best age to undergo orthodontic treatment. The reality is that there’s no easy answer to this question. If – and when – your child needs braces depends on many different factors.
Beyond essential dental health and hygiene, braces or other orthodontic treatments assist in establishing proper jaw alignment and function. Gum disease, tooth decay, and other periodontal diseases are less likely to occur when teeth are properly aligned because they are simpler to clean and maintain. Additionally, especially in young children, a good bite is necessary to facilitate appropriate biting, chewing, and speech development.
Children frequently experience issues with their teeth and jaw misaligning, which can happen for a number of reasons, including childhood habits, oral conditions, or accidents. In some cases teeth and jaw misalignment is genetic – crooked teeth can occur if your family tends to develop overbites or underbites.
How do I know if my child needs braces?
Only a dentist or orthodontist can determine whether your child needs braces. According to the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), your child should see an orthodontist by age seven. However, some issues involving jaw growth or the eruption of teeth may require a visit as early as age five or six.
How do braces work?
With constant pressure applied, braces gradually move teeth into a straighter posture.
Most children only require rubber-banded braces with brackets, wires, and bands. The brackets are connected by a wire and rubber bands attached to the teeth. To assist in aligning the teeth properly, the wire is gradually tightened. Kids can choose from a variety of interesting colours for the rubber bands. Some braces are made of metal, while others are made of transparent or white ceramic. Some even enter the dental cavity (lingual braces).
Clear detachable braces also straighten teeth using plastic trays called aligners (instead of wires and rubber bands), but they are only appropriate for some people.
Some children could also require additional gadgets, such as helmets (usually worn only at night). The back teeth of the wearer’s headgear are attached to a wire in the shape of a horseshoe, which applies more force to move the teeth. Your child may need to have one or more teeth extracted by the orthodontist to make more room in the mouth.
For how long must my child wear braces?
Your child will require regular checkups with the orthodontist for monitoring and adjustments while wearing braces.
The length of time that your child will need to wear braces depends on the orthodontic issues that need to be addressed. The typical period lasts around two years. After that, your child might need to wear a specifically moulded retainer, which could be either a thin piece of plastic in the shape of a mouthguard or a tiny, hard piece of plastic with metal wires to prevent teeth from going back to their original positions.
How should braces be cared for?
Kids with wired braces must work harder to keep their teeth clean because food can easily get stuck in them. It’s imperative to brush right after eating and floss daily (the orthodontist can give your child a special flosser to use in and around braces). Additionally crucial are routine dental cleanings and exams to check for cavities.
Certain foods (including popcorn, sticky and hard candies, and gum) should be avoided by your child since they can harm their braces. Sugary drinks like sodas and juices can also be harmful because they can induce tooth decay. Children wearing retainers or clear plastic aligners should always take them out when it’s time to eat.
Braces can occasionally feel painful because they put pressure on the teeth, particularly after the orthodontist makes modifications. If this occurs, taking over-the-counter painkillers and consuming soft foods can be helpful.
If your child has a loose bracket, wire, or wire poking their mouth, go to the orthodontist immediately. Your child may use some soft orthodontic wax to conceal any sharp brackets or wires that are unpleasant or rubbing against the inside of the mouth or gums if the orthodontist cannot discover a problem.