Wondering whether braces are in your child’s future? Here’s what you should know about braces for kids.
Early Signs Your Child Will Need Braces
There are several early signs to watch for, as they can indicate that your child may need braces in the future.
- Crowded or out of place teeth
- Overbite, underbite, or open bite (teeth don’t meet)
- Consistent cheek biting, or biting the roof of the mouth
- Jaw is out of proportion
- Losing baby teeth early, late, or in an unusual pattern
- Extended thumb sucking or pacifier use
- Breathing through the mouth rather than the nose
Importance of Pre-Orthodontic Observation
It’s important to schedule a pre-orthodontic observation with Dr. Pearson before the age of 7, as recommended by the American Association of Orthodontics. During a pre-orthodontic observation, Dr. Pearson will look closely at your child’s teeth, jaw, and soft tissues both by visual exam and through X-ray imaging. A pre-orthodontic evaluation can highlight bite problems and other orthodontic problems so you have a better idea of what to expect in your child’s future. From this evaluation, Dr. Pearson will be able to determine whether your child needs immediate treatment or whether they simply need continued observation.
If your child needs continued observation, Dr. Pearson may simply schedule visits to check on your child every six months or so. In some cases, your child may need to start early treatment, which may include the first round of braces or a palate expander. After this phase of treatment is complete, your child generally starts observation again until they’re ready for braces.
Types of braces available
There are two main options in braces for kids: metal braces and ceramic braces. Metal braces are the traditional option. They include sturdy metal brackets and wires that straighten your child’s teeth over 18-36 months. Ceramic braces include brackets and wires, but instead of metal, they’re made from a translucent ceramic. They take around the same amount of time as metal braces.
Many patients choose ceramic braces because they’re much less visible than metal ones. However, ceramic brackets are more vulnerable to damage than metal ones are, so it’s important to weigh the aesthetic benefit with the potential drawback. You can discuss your child’s needs and wishes with Dr. Pearson to make the best decision.
Benefits of Braces for Kids
Braces during childhood can be a good choice for many reasons. When your child is young, their jaw is still developing and it’s therefore much easier to shift. With adults and older teens, the jaw is already fully developed and it can be a much bigger challenge (and take much longer) to get the desired results. Braces can shift your child’s jaw and realign their teeth reliably and comfortably.
Having braces while still young can help your child avoid jaw damage, wear-and-tear due to teeth grinding, teeth impaction, and other problems related to the jaw and teeth. Having straighter teeth is also a huge benefit in terms of self-confidence. Your child won’t have to feel afraid to smile and speak when they have a straight smile.