One of the most common questions asked to any orthodontist, apart from the obvious “do braces hurt,” is “when is the right age for kids to get braces?” Every parent wants the best for their child, but it’s genuinely confusing to understand when to take the necessary step. Let’s read to find out more about braces for kids.
Why Do Kids Need Braces?
Braces are meant to solve an array of orthodontic problems, from the most common ones like crooked teeth to overlapped or crowded teeth.
Moreover, malocclusion or bad bite is also an underlying reason behind a kid’s dental visit. It is an oral condition that gives birth to several other bite issues. When you have malocclusion, both of your jaws are of different sizes, leading to severe bite problems that can hamper your ability to chew. If your child’s bottom jaw is bigger, they are suffering from an underbite; if their upper jaw is bigger, they’re suffering from an overbite.
Other than these issues, here are some of the most common reasons behind a kid needing braces:
- Genetically passed dental issues
- Teeth or jaw problems
- Prolonged thumb sucking
- Early baby tooth loss
- Mouth breathing
- Problems in chewing properly
- Speech difficulty due to misaligned teeth
- Teeth clenching or grinding
- Facial asymmetry
- Protruding jaws
- Poor oral hygiene
If your child is suffering from any of the above dental issues, it’s time to get an orthodontist involved and check whether they need braces.
What Are the Types of Braces for Kids?
Braces are meant to straighten teeth by putting pressure on them, solving major bite problems. Most kids need braces with proper brackets, wires, and rubber bands. The brackets are connected with bands and wire, which are then attached to the teeth. The purpose of braces is to apply pressure to the teeth in order for them to straighten out your teeth.
However, these are the traditional metal braces that we are talking about. As technology has advanced, orthodontic treatments have also developed.
There are several types of braces, such as:
- Ceramic Braces:
Similar to traditional braces in shape and size, they are made of ceramic that blends in with the color of your teeth, making them less noticeable. They are more expensive than metal braces, but they tend to get stained easily if not properly cared for.
- Lingual Braces:
Specialized and lesser-known methods of teeth straightening, these braces are usually attached behind your teeth. These braces are completely invisible to others and are fully customizable as per your dental needs. However, they have a major chance of giving you a lisp until treatment completion, and they are less effective for severe dental problems.
- Self-ligating Braces:
They look like ceramic and traditional metal braces – in terms of structure, as they also rely on wires and brackets. However, self-ligating braces use clips instead of rubbers to hold the brackets.
- Clear Aligners:
Clear aligners, popularly known as Invisalign, are one of a kind, as they don’t require brackets, wires, or rubber bands. They are clear removable braces customized per your jaw and teeth shape. These aligners are removed and replaced every two weeks. They are completely invisible to others and must be removed during drinking and eating to avoid staining.
Some kids are given devices like headgears that must be worn at night. This type of orthodontic equipment is a horseshoe-shaped wire that needs to be attached to the back teeth to provide more force to straighten them.
Before the beginning or during the braces treatment, the orthodontist can also remove a tooth to create space in the mouth so that the teeth can straighten efficiently. Make sure your child visits the dentist every few weeks for regular checkups.
How Long Will Your Child Wear Braces?
The braces treatment and how long your child will have to wear braces entirely depends on the orthodontic problems and treatment chosen to solve them. However, it generally takes about two years to treat a dental problem with braces.
The treatment doesn’t end here. Once the braces have done their job of straightening your child’s teeth, they need to wear retainers – customized small plastic mouthguards- that are meant to prevent their teeth from returning to their original shape.
What to Expect Before Getting Braces for Kids?
Before your kids get their braces, the first orthodontic visit is a perfect opportunity for both them and you to learn about the problem they are suffering from. The initial orthodontic checkup identifies dental problems related to jaw and teeth growth. Your child will be asked questions about chewing or swallowing problems or whether there’s a clicking or popping jaw sound.
Next, an X-ray of your teeth and jaw will be taken to further assess your teeth’ position. An impression of your child’s top and bottom teeth is also taken. Once the gooey material hardens, the orthodontist can analyze which treatment is suitable for your child.
So, When Should Kids Get Braces?
The answer to this question is simple – everything depends on the orthodontic need of your child. If your child is suffering from any dental issues, getting them braces as soon as possible is better to save their teeth and jaw from other severe oral problems.
Moreover, even your child would prefer to get braces before adulthood for appearance reasons.
Dr. Satish Pai is an orthodontist and Ivy League-trained dentist who has served as a faculty at Columbia University. He believes a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great. As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics and a Partner at Brite Orthodontics, he is dedicated to providing the best orthodontic treatments to his patients. He also writes to educate people about everything orthodontics and the importance of correctly aligned teeth along with good oral health. In his free time, you can find him golfing, doing yoga or surfing, and spending time with his family.