It’s estimated that more than four million Americans wear braces. And 75% of those people are children.
For many people, wearing braces is a part of growing up. Some kids even see it as a rite of passage – a sign that their teenage years are soon approaching.
If you find yourself asking “when should kids get braces?”, you’re not alone. Continue reading and we’ll help you figure out the best time to get braces for your children.
Why Kids Need Braces
There are several reasons as to why kids might need braces. The most common reasons are for correcting oral issues like overcrowded, overlapping, or crooked teeth.
Kids might also need braces if they have malocclusion, also known as a “bad bite”. This is when the top and bottom jaws are of different sizes. When the bottom jaw is bigger, it’s known as an underbite. When the top job is bigger, it’s referred to as an overbite.
A child might sometimes need braces if they’re experiencing jaw and tooth problems. These problems are usually caused by accidents, losing baby teeth too soon, or thumb sucking.
More often than not, however, the oral issues are inherited. So if you or someone in your family needed braces, chances are your children also will need them.
It’s usually the kid’s dentist who first notices that there are dental issues. They will then recommend that your child visit an orthodontist. The orthodontist will be the one who will recommend if your child needs braces or not and which devices would work best.
There is no specific age set for a child’s first visit to the orthodontist. Some kids start as young as 6, some children go when they’re 10, and others won’t first go until they’re in their teens.
Many orthodontists recommend that children should start seeing an orthodontist starting at age 7. This is the age when children start getting their permanent teeth. It’s around this age when issues such as overcrowding and an uneven bite will become more noticeable.
The First Visit to the Orthodontist
For the first visit, the doctor will give your child’s jaw, mouth, and teeth a thorough examination.
They might also ask your child to bite their teeth together. They’ll also likely ask your child if they’re experiencing any problems chewing or swallowing, or if they feel any popping or clicking in the jaw.
At some point, the orthodontist might also take X-rays of the teeth and mouth to see how the teeth are positioned and if any permanent teeth still have to come in. The orthodontist might also create a mold of your child’s teeth by pressing a tray of the molding material into the bottom and top teeth.
The mold is then removed and will harden over time. Eventually, it will form a replica of the patient’s teeth and this will help the orthodontist decide which type of treatment option is best.
Types of Braces
The point of braces is to put pressure on the teeth so that they will straighten out.
Most children will just need braces with wires, brackets, and rubber bands. The brackets are connected by the rubber bands and a wire and attach to the teeth.
Over time, the wire is tightened so that the teeth can line up properly. The rubber bands can also come in fun colors which many kids will enjoy.
Although metal braces are still used by man, there are also white ceramic and clear braces on the market, which are significantly less noticeable. There are some braces that even go behind the teeth.
There are also clear, removable braces known as aligners. This type is only right for certain people, though.
Some children might need other devices as well. Orthodontic headgear is a horseshoe-shaped wire that is attached to the back teeth. This is used to provide a stronger force to move the teeth.
Headgear is typically only worn at night.
The orthodontist may also recommend that the child get one or more teeth removed in order to make more space in the mouth.
After the braces are on, your child will visit their orthodontist every few weeks to make sure things are going smoothly and for adjustments.
How Long Will Your Child Have to Wear Braces?
How long your child has to wear their braces depends on the problems that their orthodontist is trying to correct. Most people wear their braces for about two years.
Once the braces are off, your child will most likely have to wear a retainer that’s specially molded for their teeth.
These retainers are usually only worn at night and are meant to stop the teeth from going back to their original positions.
Caring for Braces
It’s easy for children to get food stuck in their braces. Because of this, it’s important that your child brush their teeth after every meal.
They should also avoid certain foods like hard candy, gum, and popcorn.
The Answer for “When Should Kids Get Braces?” Is Different for Everyone
As we can see, the answer to “when should kids get braces?” is going to depend on your child’s particular situation.
For many parents, they want their children to get their braces sooner rather than later as this could save the child from future complications. It’s also typically preferred to get braces out of the way while kids are young for appearance purposes.
Are you interested in getting braces for your kids? Contact us today and see how we can help!