Ever wonder why many adults and kids wear braces in the US? Some Orthodontic Studies have reported that up to 70% of the United States population need their jaws and teeth realigned by orthodontists. Your child could be in this category. If your kid’s jaw is misaligned or his teeth are crooked, you may need to bring this to the attention of
your dentist, who may, in turn, refer you to an orthodontist.
An orthodontist will bring back your child’s captivating smile by realigning his teeth using clear aligners, retainers, rubber bands, headgear, wires, brackets, or bands. You need to understand what orthodontic treatment is all about to help you make an informed decision on whether it is the right option for your kid.
Types Of Braces
Dental braces are orthodontic devices used to straighten and align teeth, positioning them according to a patient’s bit. Braces can also fix gaps between teeth and help improve dental health. Braces are the most popular orthodontic appliances in the market today. Braces apply pressure to the jaws and teeth, thereby moving them to the right position. They are made of plastic, ceramic, stainless steel, or a combination of materials.
These materials can give the braces a tooth-colored or clear appearance. When necessary, copper-titanium or nickel-titanium can be used to make the wires.
Invisible, clear trays are also available. They can straighten your kid’s teeth without relying on the traditional wires and braces.
Invisible trays treatment uses removable, clear, custom-made trays to exert pressure on the teeth and move them gradually until they are aligned.
Orthodontists also use appliances such as:
- Temporary anchorage devices (TADs)
- Rubber bands
When Should You Take Your Child To An Orthodontist?
For perfect oral health, take your child for regular checkups. It is upon the dentist to decide whether your child needs to see an orthodontist. The dentist will examine your child’s teeth and jaws, then make recommendations.
However, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommend that children should be checked by an orthodontist at age seven. This is the age the teeth and jaws have developed enough, and the orthodontist can easily detect any problems with the teeth or jaws. Some kids start orthodontic treatment at age 9 – 14, while some start as early as age 6, but it is advisable to start earlier.
It is better to correct the problem(s) while the child is still growing. When the child stops growing, orthodontic treatment can take longer and will be more costly.
Are Braces Painful?
“Painful” is a bit too strong a word to use when referring to braces. Braces don’t hurt, but of course, there’ll be some little discomfort when they’re first fitted, when adjustments are made, and when the kid starts using other appliances such as headgear or rubber bands.
Any discomfort or pain your kid may experience can be eased using a painkiller such as Tylenol (acetaminophen).
Can My Kid Be Allergic To Braces?
Unfortunately, some kids are allergic to some metals used to make braces, such as stainless steel or nickel. If this is the case, the orthodontist will use alternative materials. Some kids are also allergic to latex gloves.
If your kid is allergic to latex, tell the orthodontist to use non-latex gloves. Braces may also irritate the gums and make them swell. Swelling of the gums isn’t an allergy, but it’s something you should be on the lookout for.
How Long Will My Kid Have To Wear Braces?
The duration of wearing the braces varies from one child to the next. It largely depends on the extent of the deformity and the age of the child. If the deformity is profound, the duration will be longer. The converse is true for minor deformity. Age also plays a role here. Younger kids can get their jaws and teeth aligned faster than older kids (or adults). On average, people wear braces for between one-and-a-half years to three years.
How Long Should A Retainer Be Worn?
Retainers are supposed to be worn for a lifetime, even if the kid wears them once a week (at night). This is a big challenge, but when a kid doesn’t wear the retainer as required, some changes are bound to take place on his teeth.
Which Food Should My Kid Avoid While Wearing Braces?
Braces, just like all other orthodontic appliances, are delicate. When they get damaged, the treatment will take longer. While wearing the braces, the kid should avoid the following foods:
- Caramel and other chewy candies
- Chewing gum
- Hard candy
As a parent, monitor your kid to make sure he doesn’t lay his hands on the above foods. Also, let the kid know that avoiding the above foods will hasten his treatment.
How Much Do Braces Cost?
The cost of braces varies depending on the extent of the problem to be corrected and the type of braces to be used. Discuss the cost with your orthodontist and find out the payment plans he has. Also, find out whether your health insurance can cover the cost of the treatment.