Orthodontic braces are one of the most common orthodontic treatments for misaligned teeth and jaws. People of all ages can benefit from braces, but they are proven to work much faster for pre-teens and teenagers since they are still experiencing jaw development.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that parents should take their children to an orthodontist around the age of seven. The earlier orthodontic treatment can start, the easier it will be to avoid major oral irregularities.

Yet, even though traditional braces are known to produce healthy, beautiful, straight smiles, children are often ambivalent about getting them. They are nervous that braces will cause them discomfort and pain and may refuse treatment. The truth is that the placement of dental braces is not painful at all and will benefit the child in the end.

Why do teeth get misaligned?

Most orthodontic issues are a result of genetic or developmental issues. Misaligned teeth can have negative effects on a child’s development as they lead to difficulties with chewing, biting, and speaking. Some common causes of misalignment include:

  • Thumb sucking
  • Poor nutrition
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Mouth breathing
  • Prolonged pacifier use

What is the process of fitting a child with braces?

The first thing the orthodontist will do is thoroughly examine the child’s teeth and jaws. This can be done through a visual examination with the use of panoramic X-rays, study models (bite impressions), and computer-generated images of the patient’s head and neck. This is the “planning phase” of the orthodontic process because it helps the orthodontist diagnose the patient’s problems and plan the most effective treatment for their individual case.

Fixed braces are recommended for children over other orthodontic devices because fixed braces cannot be forgotten, lost, or removed at will. This ensures that treatment is done efficiently. Removable appliances may be recommended in some cases or used as an addition to the fixed braces.

The most common dental appliances orthodontists may recommend for children are:

  • Fixed braces – Fixed braces are made of metal, ceramic, or clear synthetic brackets affixed to each tooth and an archwire that connects the brackets. Clear brackets are less noticeable to the naked eye. The child will come into the orthodontist’s office regularly to have their braces adjusted. Elastic bands may be added to the braces to aid in the realignment of specific teeth.
  • Retainers – Retainers are often used in the third phase (the retention phase) after the braces treatment has ended. Retainers ensure that teeth maintain their proper alignment and do not regress back to their original position. They also give the jawbone a chance to stabilize around the teeth.
  • Headgear – This is a custom-made appliance that aids in tooth movement. It must be worn for 12-20 hours each day or as recommended by the orthodontist to achieve the required results.

If you have questions about braces for children, please contact Brooklyn Dentist.