Everything You Need to Know About Kids Braces

From baby teeth to permanent teeth, the journey of dental development in children is filled with both smiles and challenges. Among the most significant steps in this journey is the decision to introduce braces into your child’s life. Many parents and children may be filled with uncertainty about orthodontic treatment. We’re here to help by giving you everything you need to know about kids’ braces.

What Do Braces Do?

Braces serve several important functions in oral health, all of which contribute to straightening and aligning the teeth. Here’s a more detailed look at the types of dental issues braces can correct.

  1. Correct Misalignment: Braces can fix various types of dental misalignment issues. This includes crowded teeth, overbites (where the upper teeth significantly overlap the lower teeth), underbites (where the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth), and crossbites (where upper and lower teeth do not meet correctly). Braces gradually move the teeth into proper alignment to correct these issues. Depending on each patient’s individual needs, the orthodontist or pediatric dentist will create a customized treatment plan to correct alignment issues.

     

  2. Close Gaps: If there’s too much space between the teeth, braces can help close these gaps by applying continuous pressure, slowly shifting the teeth together.

     

  3. Straighten Crooked Teeth: Braces and clear aligners exert gentle, steady pressure on crooked teeth to gradually realign them and put them into a straighter position.

     

  4. Improve Oral Health: Misaligned teeth can make it harder to brush and floss effectively, leading to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. By aligning the teeth, braces make it easier to maintain good oral hygiene.

     

  5. Improve Speech and Chewing: Misalignment can affect speech and the ability to chew. Orthodontic care can correct these issues, leading to clearer speech and better digestion.

     

  6. Guide Jaw Growth: In young children, braces can help guide the jaw’s growth to accommodate emerging teeth and prevent future misalignment in adult teeth.

When Should Children Get Braces?

While there is no specific age for braces, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children get an orthodontic screening by age 7. While not every child will need braces at this age, early evaluation allows orthodontists to spot potential issues that might need addressing later.

Actual brace treatment typically starts between ages 9-14, during the peak of dental development. However, the exact timing varies based on individual needs. Some children may benefit from early intervention or ‘interceptive’ orthodontic treatment, which can start as early as age 6 or 7.

Types of Braces

There are several different types of braces that patients can choose from, ranging from traditional braces that consist of metal brackets and rubber bands, to new technology such as ceramic braces and clear aligners.

 

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are a type of orthodontic appliance commonly used to correct misaligned teeth and jaws. They’ve been around for decades and have evolved significantly in terms of comfort and aesthetics.
Here’s a closer look at their key components:

  1. Brackets: These are small metal pieces that are attached to each tooth using special dental glue. The brackets are like handles, holding onto the teeth while the archwire applies the force to move them.

     

  2. Archwire: This is the metal wire that connects all the brackets. It’s bent and tightened in a way that applies pressure to the teeth, gradually moving them into the desired position.

     

  3. Elastics or Bands: These are rubber rings or small elastic bands that go around each bracket to hold the archwire in place. They come in various colors, which can be a fun way for kids to personalize their braces.

     

  4. Rubber Bands or Interarch Bands: For patients who need to correct the alignment of their jaws, larger rubber bands, also known as interarch bands, may be attached from hooks on the top brackets to hooks on the bottom to adjust jaw position.

Over time, the steady pressure applied by the archwire will move teeth into the desired positions. The orthodontist will adjust the tightness of the archwire periodically (usually every 6-8 weeks) during the course of treatment. 

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are a type of orthodontic appliance similar to traditional metal braces in design and function. They, too, consist of brackets attached to each tooth, which are connected by an archwire. However, unlike metal braces, the brackets in ceramic braces are made from a clear or tooth-colored ceramic material, making them less noticeable.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, are a relatively recent innovation in orthodontic treatment. They are custom-made, removable trays that fit snugly over the teeth and gently move them into the desired positions. Unlike traditional braces, clear aligners are virtually invisible and don’t involve brackets or wires.

They’re made from a clear, medical-grade plastic that is both comfortable and discreet. You can remove the aligners when eating, brushing, and flossing, which makes oral hygiene maintenance much easier compared to traditional braces. However, for clear aligners to be effective, they must be worn for 20-22 hours a day.

Treatment with clear aligners typically involves changing to a new set of aligners every one to two weeks, each set shifting your teeth slightly more than the last. While clear aligners can be a great option for minor to moderate dental misalignments, they may not be suitable for more complex orthodontic issues, where traditional braces would be more effective.

The Cost

The cost of braces can vary greatly depending on the type of braces, the length and complexity of treatment, and your geographic location. It’s always advisable to consult with multiple orthodontists to understand the pricing structure and payment options. Most orthodontists offer payment plans, and dental insurance may cover part of the cost.

Life with Braces

There will be some adjustment period for children getting braces. They might experience some discomfort after braces are applied or adjusted, but over-the-counter pain relievers can help. There will also be dietary adjustments to prevent damaging the braces; hard, sticky, and chewy foods are usually off-limits.
Regular dental hygiene becomes even more important. Brushing after meals and using a fluoride rinse can help prevent tooth decay and discoloration.

After Braces

Once braces come off, the retention phase begins. Children typically have to wear a retainer to ensure teeth don’t shift back to their original positions. Regular visits to the orthodontist are still required to monitor progress.
Getting braces is a significant milestone in a child’s life. It’s essential to engage your child in the process, making them feel more comfortable and less scared. After all, braces are a step towards a healthier, more beautiful smile.

Do you have more questions about braces? Contact us today!

Our experienced team is here to provide you with the information and guidance you need to make an informed decision about braces for children. We understand that getting braces can be a big decision, and we want to make sure that you have all the information you need to feel confident and comfortable with your choice. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your treatment options and how braces can benefit your oral health and overall well-being.