What is the Right Time to Get Braces for Children?
Children may need braces for several reasons. These include crooked teeth, overcrowded teeth, overlapping teeth, or malocclusion (bad bite). Malocclusion refers to a discrepancy in the sizes of the bottom and top jaws. An overbite refers to the upper jaw being larger than the lower jaw, while an underbite is just the opposite. Tooth decay, thumb sucking, accidents, and losing the baby teeth too soon can also cause tooth and jaw problems. These problems are usually inherited and cannot be avoided. But they can be corrected with the right treatment administered at the right age.
When to Have Your Child’s Teeth Evaluated
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child visit an orthodontist by age seven or even sooner if a problem is detected by parents or the family dentist.
Most orthodontists recommend correcting these issues before your child reaches the end of puberty. The reason for this is because once the growth process stops, misalignment problems are much harder to correct. According to the Mayo Clinic your child should be evaluated by an orthodontist by the age of seven. An orthodontist differs from a dentist in that they have more training and specialize in aligning and straightening teeth. How early your child may get braces will depend on the cause and severity of the misalignment of their teeth.
The Orthodontic Evaluation
At the evaluation the orthodontist will examine your child’s teeth, may ask them to bite down to observe the misalignment, and talk to you about whether your child is having problems chewing or speaking. Your child may have x-rays taken of their mouth to enable the orthodontist to see how the teeth are positioned and if the permanent teeth are still coming in. An impression, or mold, of your child’s teeth may also be done. This is done with a tray which contains a gooey material that hardens to form an impression of your child’s teeth. All of these steps help your orthodontist to decide on the best treatment for your child.
Treatment with braces usually begins after your child loses most of their primary (baby) teeth. This is normally between the ages of eight and 14. During this time most of the permanent (adult) teeth have come in. Not all children will be fitted with braces first. Some orthodontists use a dental appliance in young children while the majority of baby teeth are still present. This helps to guide the growth of the teeth and may shorten the time actual braces need to be worn. Children as young as three can be fitted with dental appliances if their teeth are severely misaligned.
Braces put steady pressure on the teeth coxing them into a straighter position. Which type of braces and how long your child has to wear them will depend on the type of misalignment and its severity. Your child will need to visit the orthodontist every few weeks so that he or she can make adjustments to the braces. Some children must wear headgear at night, while others may not need this step. The average time for a child to wear braces is around two years. Once the braces are removed your child will need to wear a retainer at night to help keep the teeth in their new position. Braces for children can help to correct misalignment and malocclusion of their teeth. Braces for children will help give your child a smile they can be proud of and a healthier set of permanent teeth.