does my kid need braces? here’s what to look for

You take your child to the dentist regularly, and you have done everything you can to keep their teeth clean, gums healthy, and the cavities away.

At your most recent visit to the dentist, you may have heard a suggestion that you never anticipated hearing before: your child needs braces.

Whether your child is excited about the prospect or not, you find yourself asking if braces are necessary, if your child is too young, and if the dentist is jumping the gun.

To help you make better, more informed decisions, you must first understand the indicators for braces, the benefits of starting early, and the dangers of putting them off.

does my child really need braces? a few indicators braces are necessary

One of the first questions parents ask is what is the right age for braces. Some children receive braces at age 8, while others wait until their early teens to get braces. However, Dr. Foote believes that it is never too early to screen children for Early Childhood Malocclusions and the need for orthodontics.

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, an orthodontic evaluation is recommended at age 7. Phase I, or early interceptive, orthodontic treatment is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10 to address significant space problems. However, there is often great benefit to intervening even earlier than age 7. The ability to positively influence facial growth and also relieve breathing and airway related issues in younger children is significant. Of course we will assess whether the adult teeth will have enough space to erupt, and if the upper and lower jaws are positioned properly. This treatment typically involves expansion of the upper jaw to relieve crowding which prevents eruption issues from becoming more severe.

When your child has all of their permanent adult teeth, typically between the ages of 10 to 14, this is considered Phase II, when they begin full braces or invisalign to straighten the adult teeth. Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing significant problems later.

As a parent, you may notice some of these issues in your own child:

  • Misaligned or Crooked Teeth: Sometimes, the signs are apparent. When your child smiles, they have misaligned or crooked teeth. It is common for children to have crowding, and when the overcrowding pushes adult teeth off to the side to make room, it requires professional correction.
  • Overbites and Underbites: Braces sometimes fix what you cannot see right away but could affect your child’s development later on, such as the overbite.
  • Thumb Sucking: Did your child engage in thumb sucking for a few extra years? If so, it might have led to deformities on his or her front and lower teeth which requires correction.
  • Chewing and Biting Issues: The teeth in the back are hard to see, but if they are misaligned and crooked, it could cause biting and chewing issues that will affect your child and not self-correct. Instead, you need braces to pull those teeth back into proper alignment.
  • Mouth breathing, snoring, clenching/grinding These sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD) are indicative of the need for expansion. When the upper jaw is narrow, and the tongue does not have proper space, breathing, airway and sleep issues will result. This is why early intervention is so crucial.
the 4 surprising benefits of early orthodontic treatment – why now is the time to act

Sure, the cost of braces for kids might make you rethink whether braces are the right thing to do. However, there are benefits to braces for kids, and these benefits often last for the rest of your child’s life. The American Association of Orthodontists states that early treatment can prevent more serious issues from affecting your child later – serving as another reason why moving forward now is best.

There is an upside to starting braces early, including:

  • Creating facial symmetry through influencing positive jaw growth
  • Creating room for crowded, erupting teeth
  • Helping improve airway and sleep disordered breathing issues – snoring, mouth breathing, clenching/grinding
  • Reducing the risk of trauma to protruding front teeth
  • Correcting harmful oral habits
  • Preserving space for unerupted teeth
  • Reducing the need for tooth removal
  • Reducing treatment time for orthodontic care
  • Improving self-esteem, image and some speech problems

1. Braces May Prevent Periodontal Disease
While improper hygiene during the use of braces can cause gum disease, with proper hygiene, braces can also prevent further issues of periodontal disease.

Braces space teeth correctly so that flossing and brushing do their job correctly, and it prevents food from becoming lodged inside nooks of the tooth and gum tissue, which lead to disease.

2. Braces Reduce Issues of Tooth Decay
Tooth decay happens when you cannot clean your teeth properly, and when you do not clean, bacteria accumulates inside the crevices which allow for acid build-up.

Braces align teeth and thus allow for easier/better cleaning, which helps protect teeth and keep them healthier.

3. Braces Improve Self-Esteem
When your child smiles, are they self-conscious about crooked or misaligned teeth? While wearing braces might be seen as a negative thing, it is temporary. In the end, your child will have better self-esteem when they are no longer worried about their smile.

4. Braces Improve Speech
Misaligned teeth can impact how a child reads aloud and even sounds out words. According to “Speech Defect and Orthodontics: A Contemporary Review,” teeth play a vital role in articulating consonants and the airflow modification required to do so. Orthodontics change tooth positions so that speech is improved. While not guaranteed, a child with speech issues due to malformations of their teeth may do better once they have their teeth realigned.

what types of braces for kids are there?

Your orthodontist can tell you which braces work best for your child’s specific malformation, but some common types to choose from include:

  • Traditional Metal or Clear (ceramic) Braces: Braces engage with a wire to help align the teeth.
  • Invisalign: Removable clear aligners that are fabricated specifically to your teeth to help straighten and align. Since tthey are removable, your child can remove them to eat/drink and brush.. Invisalign They are virtually invisible but cannot correct severe misalignments and are not suitable for younger children.Invisalign aligners achieve bony base expansion. Aligner expansion is recommended in mild to moderately crowded cases. The benefits to expansion with aligners include better hygiene, less concern over problematic foods, fewer emergency appointments (no poking wires, broken braces), and longer appointment intervals.
  • Aligners: Are worn full time and removed for eating and brushing.
  • With Invisalign Teen®: young children and teens can help to develop the bones and align the teeth without ever having to deal with metal wires and brackets. That means you can still do all the things that make these some of the best times of your life! Sports, musical events, goofing around with friends—all great reasons to get Invisalign Teen to help you achieve the same results as traditional braces.
  • Special occasion coming up? No problem—just take your aligners out for that time and pop them back in when you’re ready. Of course, even when you’re wearing them, most people won’t even know you’re going through treatment, because they are virtually invisible!
  • Aligners are worn full time and removed for eating and brushing. You can eat all different types of food because you can remove the clear aligners during meals. Keeping your teeth clean with brushing and flossing is much easier with Invisalign than with traditional braces.
  • Invisalign is also ideal for you and your child’s busy schedule, with benefits that include better hygiene, less concern over problematic foods, fewer emergency appointments (no poking wires, broken braces), and longer appointment intervals.
worried about the cost of braces for kids or need more help deciding?

Paying for braces can be overwhelming, but when you work with a qualified provider, the process becomes easier. Foote Orthodontics offers early intervention or Phase I treatment for children ages 5 to 10 to prevent overcrowding and keep braces costs lower in the end. Furthermore, we offer payment plans for braces not covered by insurance to make it easier to cover the cost of your child’s braces.

Learn more about our early intervention program for children or contact our office today to schedule a consultation for your child’s braces.

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