It may come as a surprise to many parents that their child should first see an orthodontist at the age of 7!
Most of us probably think of braces as being for teens. After all, this is the most common age that kids start wearing them. But certain orthodontic issues often become apparent way before the teen years.
There are many advantages to identifying and treating orthodontic issues at an earlier age. A child orthodontist can use braces for kids to reduce the need for long treatments during adolescence.
Let’s explore the benefits of braces for kids and the different kinds of braces available.
Braces for Kids – Are They Necessary?
When you take your child to their first appointment with the orthodontist, they’ll be looking for any signs of malocclusion. This means problems with their bite. There are several factors that can cause bite issues.
If either parent or other family member has also had malocclusion issues, there’s a higher chance your child will too. There are also environmental factors at play, such as thumb sucking or prolonged use of a pacifier during infancy.
There are three different malocclusion categories:
- Class 1 – the most common form, in which the upper teeth overlap the lower ones
- Class 2 – overbite, severe overlapping of the upper jaw
- Class 3 – underbite, the lower jaw protrudes and the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth
If your orthodontist notices any of these issues, they’ll provide advice and discuss treatment options. Sometimes it’s something as simple as helping your child stop sucking their thumb. In other cases, child braces can help to correct these issues even before all of their adult teeth have emerged.
If there are overcrowding issues, braces for kids can help to create the needed space without the need for painful tooth extractions.
The first visit to the orthodontist is crucial. Even if they do not spot any issues at this stage, it allows them to start monitoring your child’s dental development. Regular follow-up appointments can lead to prompt treatment at the right time.
The Benefits of Braces for Kids
Braces for kids are about way more than helping them to achieve a beautiful smile. Although it has to be said, that’s a major bonus that can do wonders for their self-confidence.
Firstly, they take advantage of the fact that your child’s jaw and mouth are still developing. This makes it easier for both the jaw and teeth to move into their new positions. This is called phase 1 or interceptive orthodontics.
It also helps your child’s adult teeth to emerge in their correct positions. This means that the need – and expense – of phase 2 orthodontics during adolescence is often reduced. It also means your child is less likely to need surgery or teeth extractions as they get older.
Protruding teeth are also a risk for active kids. They’re more likely to get chipped or broken when playing sports or if they fall over.
Finally, a good bite will help your child to breathe easily and speak clearly.
Kids are generally very compliant with orthodontic procedures, like braces. They’re eager to please and are easier for parents to direct and monitor than older children. So if your child needs orthodontic treatment, it’s a good idea to seize the opportunity while they are still young.
Different Kinds of Braces for Kids
Gone are the days when traditional, railroad track braces were the only option for kids. Now there are modern braces for kids, including ceramic and invisible braces that are a lot more fun.
Traditional braces are still the go-to choice for correcting phase 1 orthodontic issues. They’re effective and can correct the most complex issues. They’re also the most affordable option.
Modern braces are smaller and more discreet than they were in the past. Fun, colored elastics can help your child to embrace wearing braces. Starting early, before the self-conscious teen years, can make it easier for your child.
Ceramic braces work on the same principle as traditional metal braces. But they use translucent ceramic brackets instead of metal ones. They’re much less conspicuous, and most people will hardly know that they’re there!
They’re usually more expensive than traditional braces. Talk to your orthodontist to discuss the cost of your treatment and the insurance coverage available to you.
Invisalign uses clear aligners to move your child’s teeth into their new positions. The range has now expanded to include options for teens. They’re discreet and easy to keep clean, and your child can remove them to eat or play sports.
Invisalign is usually a little more expensive than other treatment options. But the exact cost will depend on how long your child needs to wear them.
Caring for Braces
If your child gets traditional or ceramic braces, they can’t remove them to clean their teeth. When you bring your child for their braces fitting, the orthodontist will explain how to keep their teeth and braces clean.
It’s a good idea to get some specialist floss for braces and train your child to use it. Because food can easily get caught in both the braces and the teeth, it’s very important they get into the habit of cleaning their teeth after every meal.
There’ll also be a few foods that are off-limits while they’re wearing their braces. These include:
- Caramel candies
- Hard candies or nuts
- Corn on the cob
However, there is an exception to this. If you choose Invisalign, no foods are off-limits. But your child will need to brush their teeth and clean their aligners each time after they eat.
If you notice any issues with the braces, such as a protruding wire, get on the phone with your child orthodontist right away. They’ll fix it before it causes secondary issues.
Choose North Seattle Orthodontics for Braces for Kids
Far from being a gimmick, braces for kids can help your child in many ways. They can make room for their adult teeth to emerge in healthy positions. They can also correct alignment issues and make eating and speaking more comfortable.
If your child is aged 7 or above, why not bring them in for an appointment? Dr. Elizabeth Lyons has more than 20 years of experience in treating patients of all ages. She’ll put your child at ease and identify any emerging issues.
Schedule an appointment online or call us at 206-523-1047 today!