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When improving your child’s smile, orthodontic treatment plays a pivotal role. Braces for kids are not just about enhancing dental aesthetics; they also contribute to better oral health. This comprehensive guide will delve into various aspects of braces for kids, helping parents understand the types of braces, the best time to start treatment, and what to expect during the process.

What Are Orthodontic Braces?

Orthodontic braces are devices employed by dentists, to correct alignment issues, straighten teeth, and enhance overall dental health. These appliances, comprising brackets, bands, and wires, are meticulously designed to exert gentle, consistent pressure on the teeth. This pressure gradually moves the teeth into their correct positions, typically spanning several months to a few years.

braces for kids checkThe brackets, which are small squares temporarily bonded directly to the front of each tooth, serve as the anchorage for the braces. Depending on the type chosen, they can be made from stainless steel, ceramic, or even high-quality plastic. Wires threaded through these brackets act as guides that steer the teeth into place. The dentist periodically adjusts the tension in these wires to maintain the right amount of pressure needed to move the teeth.

Some braces may include other devices, such as rubber bands or springs, in addition to traditional components. These devices exert additional force in a specific direction or adjust the pressure between the upper and lower teeth, which is often necessary for correcting bite issues.

Orthodontic braces are more than just functional; they are a pivotal part of preventive health care, helping to improve the patient’s ability to chew, speak, and maintain oral hygiene. Correct tooth alignment can also distribute the force of biting evenly, reducing wear and tear and potential injury to teeth over time.

Why Kids Might Need Braces

The need for braces in children can arise from several common dental issues that, if left untreated, can complicate their oral health and affect their self-esteem. These issues include:

Crooked Teeth: Crooked teeth can create cleaning challenges, leading to poor oral hygiene and increased risks of tooth decay and gum disease.

Overcrowding: Insufficient space in the jaw can prevent permanent teeth from erupting properly. This situation can make proper dental care challenging, as tightly packed teeth are more difficult to brush and floss effectively.

Overbites and Underbites: An overbite, characterised by upper teeth significantly overlapping the lower teeth, or an underbite, where lower teeth extend past the upper teeth, can impact both chewing and speech. These bite problems can also lead to undue stress on the jaw, which might cause further dental issues.

Aesthetic Concerns: Misaligned teeth can significantly affect a child’s confidence, especially during their formative years. Children might feel self-conscious about their smiles, which can influence their social interactions and emotional growth. Starting orthodontic treatment, especially with braces, goes beyond just cosmetic improvements—it’s a vital step in making sure a child’s teeth function well and stay healthy. Early orthodontic evaluations allow dentists to determine the optimal time to begin treatment, leveraging a child’s growth patterns to address and correct dental issues effectively.



Types of Braces Available

When considering orthodontic treatment for children, parents and guardians can choose from several types of braces, each with unique benefits and designed to meet different orthodontic needs. Understanding the various options can help make an informed decision about the best approach for a child’s dental correction.

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces, the most widely recognised type, are made up of metal brackets that are attached to the teeth and linked together by wires. They are highly effective for severe alignment problems.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces function similarly to metal braces but feature ceramic brackets that are less noticeable, making them a more aesthetically pleasing option.

Lingual Braces

Placed behind the teeth, lingual braces are virtually invisible from the outside. They are perfect for children concerned about the visibility of their braces.

Self-Ligating Braces

Damon braces are a type of self-ligating braces that require fewer appointments and reduce treatment time. They use a slide mechanism that holds the wire, allowing teeth to move more freely.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners, which are growing increasingly popular, are nearly invisible trays that can be removed for eating and cleaning. They are best suited for teenagers with mild to moderate alignment issues.

Choosing the Right Braces

Selecting the appropriate type of braces involves considering various factors such as the severity of teeth misalignment, aesthetic preferences, lifestyle needs, and the overall cost.

The Best Age to Begin Orthodontic Treatment

braces for kids metalDetermining the ideal time to begin orthodontic treatment for a child is crucial for achieving optimal outcomes. The Australian Society of Orthodontists and other dental professionals recommend early assessments to strategically plan and lessen the complexity of future treatments.

Orthodontic issues can sometimes be detected very early in life, well before all permanent teeth have erupted. The Australian Society of Orthodontists suggests that children should have their first orthodontic visit by the age of seven. This early evaluation allows the dentist to identify any structural issues with the jaw or teeth that are easier to address at a young age due to the malleability of a child’s bones.

This visit is not necessarily about starting immediate treatment but rather about monitoring the development of the jaw and teeth to anticipate the best time to start treatment. Early assessment can help identify habits that may negatively impact oral structures, such as thumb sucking and prolonged use of a pacifier. Addressing these habits early can help prevent further orthodontic issues down the line.

Advantages of Early Treatment

Early orthodontic treatment, also known as interceptive orthodontics, offers several significant benefits:

Correcting Jaw Misalignment: Early intervention can help guide the growth of the jaw in a more favourable direction. This can prevent more severe alignment issues later and potentially reduce the need for jaw surgery in adolescence or adulthood.

Addressing Mouth Breathing: Orthodontic appliances can help modify oral habits such as mouth breathing, which, if left uncorrected, can lead to dry mouth, bad breath, and even gingival changes.

Managing the Loss of Baby Teeth: Early treatment can help manage the timing and sequence of baby teeth loss, which plays a crucial role in the proper alignment of permanent teeth. It can ensure that there is enough space for permanent teeth to erupt correctly, reducing the chances of overcrowding.

Reducing Treatment Time for Future Braces: By addressing major orthodontic issues early, the comprehensive phase of wearing braces later on can often be shorter and less complicated.

Starting Braces: Fixed Age or Flexible?

While early assessment is crucial, the actual timing for starting braces can vary. There is no universally fixed age for all children to begin treatment; instead, it’s tailored to individual needs. Typically, orthodontic treatment with braces begins between the ages of 8 and 14.

This range is ideal because it corresponds with the eruption of most permanent teeth, and the facial bones are still growing, which helps the braces work more effectively.

Deciding when to start treatment involves considering multiple factors:

  • The stage of dental development
  • The presence of any orthodontic issues
  • The child’s emotional and physical readiness to handle the responsibilities that come with wearing braces

What to Expect When Your Child Wears Braces

The length of time a child needs to wear braces depends on their specific dental issues, but it typically lasts from 18 months to three years.

Initially, braces may cause discomfort, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relief. Dietary adjustments are also necessary to protect the braces from damage.

Proper oral hygiene is crucial to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Regular brushing and flossing, using special orthodontic tools, can help maintain dental health throughout the treatment.

Cost of Braces

The cost of braces varies based on the type of braces, the complexity of the treatment, and the duration of the process. Ceramic and lingual braces typically cost more than traditional metal braces. Many dental insurance plans cover a portion of orthodontic treatment. Additionally, most orthodontic clinics offer flexible payment plans to make treatment more affordable.

Common Concerns and Solutions

Children may have concerns about the social impact of wearing braces. Reassuring your child about how common and socially accepted braces are can help alleviate some anxiety. Occasionally, braces might break, or wires may become loose. It’s important to know how to handle these situations and when to see your dentist for emergency care.

Conclusion: Taking the Next Steps for Your Child’s Smile

braces-for-kids-consultationDeciding to start orthodontic treatment for your child is a significant decision that can provide lasting benefits for their oral health and self-esteem. If you’re thinking about braces for your child, it’s important to act quickly to capitalise on their current developmental stage and maximise the effectiveness of the treatment.

Contact us today to schedule your first appointment and start the journey toward a healthier, more beautiful smile for your child.

This guide aims to arm you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about the treatment plan for your child. Remember, the right treatment at the right time can lead to a lifetime of smiles.

Contact Bright On Bay Dental at 02 9538 7028 to claim the Hollywood smile of your dreams!

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.