A child may need braces for crooked teeth, overcrowded teeth, overlapping teeth or a malocclusion (bad bite) when there is a difference in the size of the upper jaw and lower jaw. But, whatever the reason for your child, you have questions. Here are the ABC’s of braces.
At what age?
- Once the permanent teeth start coming in, around the age of 7, is usually a signal to see about braces. You may go to a separate office or an orthodontist may be part of your dental team.
- Will the braces be ordered right away? The answer is no. The first visit will probably include X-rays and a thorough examination. A mold of your child’s mouth may be made by pressing a “tray” of gooey stuff into the top and bottom teeth. The goo will harden into a replica of your child’s teeth.
- Most children get braces when they have lost all their “baby” teeth and their 12-year-old molars are coming in.
Braces – what type?
- The traditional braces are still the most common (and, the least expensive) but even they have changed. They come in the traditional metal or you may be able to select bands of different colors. The rubber bands which help correct alignment also come in colors. Many children are proud of their new braces and the chance to show them off in color.
- Clear or white ceramic braces are also available. They are less noticeable and might be the choice of an older child and, even, an adult who has decided to correct their teeth.
- Lingual braces are on the back side of the teeth so they do not show. These are harder to keep clean and may not work with all orthodontic problems.
- Aligners are clear removable “trays” that are almost invisible. However, they are not suitable for serious dental problems and will take longer to work.
Care – the braces are on; now what?
- They are going to be uncomfortable some of the time – like after an adjustment. Over-the-counter pain killers that are age and size appropriate will help.
- If a loose wire or bracket is poking and hurting, it’s time to see your doctor again.
- Good dental hygiene is absolutely essential. Your child will need to brush and floss (the dentist will show your child how) regularly as food can get trapped in braces. Regular cleanings are also a must. You don’t want the braces to lead to tooth decay.
- Some food should be avoided so the braces aren’t harmed. They include such things as popcorn, hard or sticky candy and gum. Teach your child to respect the process of getting a beautiful smile!
- Some children need two phases of treatment, the first phase during their transitional dentition to fix a more seriously problem, that if left untreated, could cause permanent damage.
Having a beautiful smile is important. It’s how a person shows the world that they are confident and happy. Make sure your child gets the help they need to have straight, strong teeth. See your dentist and orthodontist early so they can guide you in what is best for your child.