Braces for Kids

When Should My Child Get Braces?

Braces are designed to correct several orthodontic problems that can start as early as childhood, and persist throughout adulthood if not properly addressed. Many people know that braces are used to straighten teeth, but they are also used to correct overbites, underbites, overcrowding, and jaw misalignment. These sorts of issues can be diagnosed early on in a child’s life and early treatment has proven much more effective than waiting until the bones and joints of the mouth are more developed.

In this sense, it is a good idea to bring your child to the orthodontist around age seven for a consultation. During this appointment, the doctor will take a look at your child’s teeth and take X-rays to ascertain the position of the jaw. If your orthodontist sees a bite misalignment forming, they may recommend braces to pull the jaw into proper position. By pursuing early treatment of these issues, it can save your child from having to get surgical procedures later on in life such as tooth removal or jaw realignment. If your child does not seem to have any pressing orthodontic issues, the doctor may have you return for periodic check-ups to monitor tooth development.

Types of Braces

Braces have been around for a long time, and many innovations have been made to help these devices work more efficiently and comfortably for the patient. 

Clear Braces

Clear braces also called ceramic braces, use the same mechanism as traditional braces but use a different material for the brackets. Clear braces use ceramic to make the braces less noticeable. This ceramic material comes in a range of colors so your orthodontist can match the bracket color to your child’s tooth color for a less obvious treatment.

Self-ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces often look very similar to traditional braces from the outside, but their mechanism of action is slightly different. Instead of using elastics or metal ties on the brackets, self-ligating braces use a specialized type of bracket that maintains pressure on the wire and does not require tightening. Self-ligating braces are thought to be a bit more comfortable for patients, and sometimes lessen the number of visits to the orthodontist since they continually apply pressure to the teeth without manual tightening by your doctor. Some also say that self-ligating braces may be a more hygienic alternative, as the elastics used on traditional brackets tend to accumulate plaque and buildup.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces use brackets that are attached to the back of teeth, making them invisible to the outside world. They work in the same manner that traditional braces do by using metal wire to pull teeth into position. Since the brackets are placed on the inside face of the teeth, lingual braces sometimes lead to more tongue discomfort than traditional braces, though this varies from patient to patient.

SureSmile

Instead of the doctor bending an archwire by hand, a SureSmile wire is custom-shaped by a robot. When the wire is inserted, each tooth moves directly to the prescribed position. It’s this precise movement that enables such great results with a shorter treatment time. With SureSmile, patients spend less time in treatment and make fewer visits to the orthodontist. The custom SureSmile archwire provides smoother movement for a more comfortable experience than traditional braces.

Lifestyle Adjustments with Braces

There are certain dietary restrictions that your child will need to follow while they are wearing braces. Foods that are extra hard, chewy, or sticky can damage or break braces, potentially leading to painful wires poking out and an emergency visit to the orthodontist. Try to avoid popcorn, caramels, gum, and hard foods like apples or carrots unless they are cut into bite-size pieces.

Braces can also make dental hygiene a bit more complicated. Your orthodontist may provide a special flosser that your child can use to clean in between the teeth and make sure no plaque is accumulating in these areas. It is important to maintain good dental hygiene while wearing braces because you want to make sure that your teeth are not only straight by the end of the process, but also healthy and white!  

Cost of Braces

The cost of braces varies on a patient to patient basis. Depending on the problems that need to be fixed, your child may need to wear braces for a longer duration or require certain supplementary appliances that incur an additional cost. Many factors will play into the final price of braces, so it is a good idea to visit your orthodontist for an evaluation and to get more information on the total cost.

WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF TWO-PHASE ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT?

Two-phase orthodontic treatment is a specialized process that combines tooth straightening and physical, facial changes. The purpose of two-phase treatment is to maximize the opportunity to accomplish the ideal healthy, functional, and aesthetic result that will remain stable throughout your child’s life.

WHAT IF TREATMENT IS PUT OFF?

Putting off treatment can result in a need for more invasive treatment later in life that may not completely fix your child’s smile. Early treatment is most effective for achieving lasting results.

PHASE ONE

A Foundation for a Lifetime of Beautiful Smiles

The goal of Phase One treatment is to help the jaw develop in a way that will accommodate all of the permanent teeth and improve the way the upper and lower jaws fit together. Children often exhibit early signs of jaw problems as they grow and develop. An upper jaw that is growing too much or is too narrow can be recognized at an early age. If children over the age of six are found to have this jaw discrepancy, they are candidates for early orthodontic treatment. Also, if children around the age of eight have crowded front teeth, early treatment can prevent the need to extract permanent teeth later.

Planning now can save your child’s smile later

Children benefit tremendously from early-phase treatment. Receiving early treatment may prevent the removal of permanent teeth later in life, or the need for surgical procedures to realign the jaws.

Making records to determine your child’s unique treatment

Orthodontic records will be necessary to determine the type of appliances to be used, the duration of treatment time, and the frequency of visits. Records consist of models of the teeth, X-rays, and photographs. During your child’s initial consultation, the doctor will take records to determine if early treatment is necessary.

Resting Period

In this phase, the remaining permanent teeth are left alone as they erupt. Retaining devices may not be recommended if they would interfere with eruption. It is best to allow the existing permanent teeth some freedom of movement. A successful first phase will have created room for permanent teeth to find an eruption path. Otherwise, they may become impacted or severely displaced.

Monitoring the teeth’s progress

At the end of the first phase of treatment, teeth are not in their final positions. This will be determined and accomplished in the second phase of treatment. Selective removal of certain primary (baby) teeth may be in the best interest of enhancing eruption during this resting phase. Therefore, periodic recall appointments for observation are necessary, usually on a six-month basis.

PHASE TWO

Stay healthy and look attractive

The goal of the second phase is to make sure each tooth has an exact location in the mouth where it is in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and other teeth. When this equilibrium is established, the teeth will function together properly. Phase Two usually involves full upper and lower braces.

At the beginning of the first phase, orthodontic records were made and a diagnosis and treatment plan was established. Certain types of appliances were used in the first phase to correct and realign the teeth and jaw. The second phase begins when all permanent teeth have erupted, and usually requires braces on all the teeth for an average of 24 months. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure your child retains his or her beautiful smile.