These days braces for kids are the norm on playgrounds and in schools. Frankly speaking, almost all children would benefit from some degree of orthodontic treatment.
For some, it is purely cosmetic. What child (or adult, for that matter) wouldn’t have greater self-esteem with a bright, beautiful smile?
For other kids, teeth problems are more serious. Poor teeth alignment can cause sleep problems, trouble eating, chronic headaches and gum disease.
Whatever the reasons you are considering braces for your child, you probably have some questions and concerns.
Why Children Need Braces
Kids may need braces for many reasons, including crooked, overlapping or overcrowded teeth, or a “bad bite” (known as malocclusion). Malocclusion results from a difference in the sizes of the top and bottom jaws.
An overbite is when the upper jaw is bigger than the lower jaw. Whereas, an underbite is when the lower jaw is bigger than the upper jaw.
Most tooth and jaw problems are inherited. If you or someone in your family has crooked teeth, there is a good chance your child will also.
Problems can also be caused by losing baby teeth too soon, accidents, poor diet or bad habits like thumb sucking.
Often, your child’s dentist will be the first to notice problems during a regular visit and recommend that you see an orthodontist. An orthodontist, like Dr. McCarthy, is a dentist who specializes in correcting jaw and/or teeth alignment problems.
Dr. McCarthy will examine your child’s teeth and advise you if your child needs braces and which devices would be best.
There’s no particular age for a child’s first orthodontist visit. Some kids go when they’re 6, some kids go when they’re 10, and some don’t seek advice until they’re teens. Even adults can need orthodontic treatment.
As a general rule, kids should see an orthodontist once their permanent teeth start coming in, around age 6 or 7. At this age, issues such as uneven bite and overcrowding will become apparent and are usually easier to resolve.
Starting the process early doesn’t mean a child will get braces right away. Dr. McCarthy will advise you of any problems with your child’s teeth and help you decide the best time to start treatment if necessary.
You can learn more about what to expect at your child’s consultation with Dr. McCarthy here.
Type of Braces
Braces can seem complicated and, yes, it does take years of training and experience to plan a patient’s treatment. Every child’s needs are different. There are no cookie-cutter solutions.
But the basic idea behind braces is pretty simple. Braces correct alignment problems by putting steady pressure on the teeth, which eventually moves them into a straighter or better aligned position.
Most children will need braces with brackets, wires, and rubber bands. The brackets attach to the teeth with a special glue and connect together by a wire and rubber bands.
With each visit to her office, Dr. McCarthy will gently tighten the wire. Slowly your child’s teeth move into a better alignment. The rubber bands come in fun colors that kids can pick.
Some children simply don’t have room for all of their teeth. In cases like this, Dr. McCarthy may recommend different strategies, including gently and slowly expanding the size of the jaw or possibly removing some teeth to create more space.
During their treatment, your child will visit our office every few weeks for monitoring and adjustments.
Every child’s treatment plan is different. Dr. McCarthy will give you an estimate of how long your child will need braces at the initial no-obligation consultation. The average is about 2 years.
When their treatment is over, most kids wear a specially molded retainer. The retainer is a thin piece of plastic shaped like a mouthguard. Retainers keep the teeth from wandering back to their original places.
The gift of braces for your child is a big commitment both for your child and you. It is also one of the most rewarding things you can do for your child, because a person’s smile is one of the most important ways they interact with the world.
Dr. McCarthy is excited to help you give a gift your child will be grateful for all of their life!a