Having braces can be a difficult decision for children. They will often be torn because they will greatly desire to have perfectly aligned and straight teeth, and braces are often the only way to achieve that. On the other hand, they will be concerned about whether their braces will be very painful, and disrupt their ability to talk and eat properly. However, having braces fitted really is not that painful, and any discomfort that a patient does feel is always worth it after they see that perfect smile.
Although a patient of any age can receive braces – even an adult in their forties, for example – the orthodontic treatment will always work faster in a patient who is younger. This is because their teeth and jaws are already changing and moving, so braces simply harness that process and guide it to the right course. We would always recommend that all children should be assessed by an orthodontic dentist at the age of seven, so that if they do require any treatment, it can be offered immediately and as young as possible.
What causes teeth misalignment?
Some problems that people have with their teeth can be caused by their genetics, or simple developmental problems that will lead to issues with biting, chewing, and speaking. Other dental problems will have been caused by or aggravated by particular behaviour or habits that the patient has had ever since they were a child. These sorts of behaviors include:
- Continuously breathing through the mouth
- Thumb sucking or finger sucking
- Using a pacifier for many years
- Bad oral hygiene, leading to infection and decay
- Bad nutrition, so teeth do not get the nutrients they need
What is involved in a child getting braces?
At the very beginning of the orthodontic process will be a consultation, during which the dentist will make a visual examination of the child’s teeth, gums, and jawline. After that, panoramic x-rays will be taken so that the dentist can understand exactly what is going on underneath the gum line, andmolds of the child’s teeth will also be taken so that the dentist can accurately understand the positioning of all the teeth. After this, computer-generated images will be created so that the orthodontic dentist can start to plan accurately the best course of treatment for the patient.
In many cases, the best course of treatment is fixed braces which cannot be lost, forgotten, or removed. This is also one of the fastest treatment options, although in cases where the problems are minor, removable braces may also be offered as they are much less intrusive. Your dentist will be able to talk you through the intricacies of each treatment option:
- Fixed braces: these have brackets attached to every tooth, and an arch wire will go between them connecting them all up. Made of metal, ceramic, or a clear material, the brackets will help to move the teeth to the right place. Fixed braces will require frequent visits for check ups
- Headgear: much more commonly used in order to treat developmental problems, a headgear piece will be custom made for the patient, and is attached to wire to encourage teeth to move. The headgear will need to be worn for a minimum of twelve hours and a maximum of twenty hours every day
- Retainers: often used more frequently after the primary treatment option has been successful, retainers are used in order to stop teeth from moving back to their misaligned positions, undoing all of the excellent work done already. A retainer will also support the jawbone around the newly moved teeth so that the correct teeth alignment can be kept for years to come
To find out if braces are the best option for your child, call (619) 640-5100.