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Many children are ambivalent about getting braces. On one hand, they like the idea of perfect teeth, but on the other hand, they are nervous about whether the braces will cause pain and discomfort. The good news is that the placement of orthodontic braces is not at all painful, and the end result will be a beautiful straight smile.
Although patients of any age can benefit from orthodontic braces, they tend to work much quicker on pre-teens and teenagers since they are still experiencing jaw growth. We begin evaluating orthodontics at each check-up as early as 3 years of age. An orthodontic examination is beneficial before facial or oral irregularities arise.
What Causes misalignment of teeth?
Poorly aligned teeth often cause problems speaking, biting and chewing. Most irregularities are genetic or occur as a result of developmental issues. Conversely, some irregularities are acquired or greatly exacerbated by certain habits and behaviors such as:
Thumb or finger sucking
Prolonged pacifier use
Poor oral hygiene
What’s involved when a child gets braces?
We initially conduct a visual examination of the child’s teeth. This will be accompanied by panoramic and cephalometric X-rays, study models (bite impressions), and photos of the face and teeth.
In many cases, we recommend “fixed” orthodontic braces for a child. Fixed braces cannot be lost, forgotten or removed at will, which means that treatment is completed more quickly.
Here is a brief overview of some of the main types of orthodontic appliances used on children:
Fixed braces – Braces are comprised of metal brackets that are affixed to each individual tooth and an archwire that connects the brackets. After braces have been applied, the child will have regular appointments to have the braces adjusted.
Headgear – This type of appliance is most useful to treat developmental irregularities. A headgear is a custom-made appliance attached to molar brackets that aids in tooth movement. A headgear is intended to be worn for 12-14 hours each day and must be worn as recommended to achieve the intended result.
Retainers – Retainers are typically utilized in the third phase (retention phase). When the original malocclusion has been treated with braces, it is essential that the teeth do not regress back to the original misalignment. Wearing a retainer ensures that teeth maintain their proper alignment and gives the jawbone around the teeth a chance to stabilize.
If you have questions about braces for children, please contact our office.