Frequently Asked Questions About Braces for Children
Children who need braces certainly can’t count themselves alone. An estimated 45 percent of children require braces to combat dental problems that impair their bite, speech, or other necessary functions. An additional 30 percent of kids may also benefit from braces purely for cosmetic reasons.
If you suspect that your child may need braces sooner or later, you should learn what you can about these orthodontic devices ahead of time. Check out these answers to some frequently asked questions about braces for children.
Why Might Children Need Braces?
Braces correct crooked, gapped, or crowded permanent teeth. Teeth may grow in crooked for genetically inherited reasons, such as an undersized jaw that simply cannot accommodate a full set of permanent teeth. Bite problems between upper and lower teeth may also occur if the lower jaw juts forward or recedes backward.
Crooked or crowded baby teeth don’t necessarily lead to the same problems in their permanent counterparts. However, this tendency may indicate a lack of space or other malformation in the jaw that could affect both sets of teeth equally.
In some cases, permanent teeth that have already erupted normally may shift position. This problem may occur due to an impact to the face, or it may stem from decay or other dental conditions that allow the teeth to loosen. Thumb sucking in babies can sometimes encourage facial changes that affect tooth alignment.
When Should Kids Get Fitted for Braces?
The dynamic nature of dental development in childhood makes it hard for parents to predict whether their kids will need braces. In addition to misaligned baby teeth or a thumb sucking habit, watch for potential signals such as mouth breathing, chewing problems, an underbite or overbite, and teeth that don’t appear to meet.
Children don’t receive their first orthodontic checkup until the age of seven (unless they already display misalignment trouble signs). This checkup enables the dentist or orthodontist to examine the jaws, see how the baby teeth have developed, and X-ray the jaw to evaluate the angles of non-erupted permanent teeth.
Once your child has a fair number of erupted permanent teeth, your dentist may recommend a fitting for braces. Kids who need braces typically receive their first set between the ages of nine and 14. You can expect this process of gradual tooth straightening to continue for approximately two years.
What Alternatives to Standard Braces Can Kids Receive?
Some kids feel understandably self-conscious or embarrassed about flashing a shiny set of metal braces every time they smile or talk. If you worry that your child will have this kind of reaction, rest assured that modern dentistry has made alternatives to traditional metallic braces available to both kids and adults.
Some children’s dental alignment issues may respond well to aligner trays. These clear plastic trays appear almost invisible, which removes worries about self-consciousness. Wearers can also remove them to eat, brush, and floss, which allows for easier and more thorough dental hygiene practices.
However, your dentist may not recommend aligners to young patients universally. Some alignment errors may require other straightening methods, while a child who receives aligners must possess the maturity and sense of responsibility to wear them 22 hours a day, despite the attractions of removability.
Ceramic brackets on braces provide another option for avoiding the glint of metal. These brackets may feature clear, white, or tooth-colored materials that don’t call attention to themselves. Kids can also get white-coated wires for an even more natural look, or embrace their braces by selecting fun, fashionable colors.
Bear in mind that ceramic braces won’t work for bottom teeth if the upper teeth rub against them. Ceramic braces may also cost more, fail more frequently, and cause more soft tissue irritation than standard metal braces.
Kids Choice Dental can answer all your questions and fit your child with effective, high-quality braces. Contact us to learn more.