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Braces for Children

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Braces for Children

girl with bracesMany children are of two minds about wearing braces: they want perfect teeth, but they are apprehensive about whether braces will cause them discomfort or pain. Getting braces, however, isn’t at all painful, and the beautiful, perfect smile can be worth it.

Patients can benefit from braces at any age, but this kind of orthodontic treatment works quickest and most effectively on teens and preteens whose jaws are still growing and changing. Ideally, the mouth should be evaluated for orthodontic treatment before age 7. If there are obvious irregularities, it might make sense to seek treatment even earlier.

What causes teeth misalignment?

Many irregularities are genetic or happen during development, causing problems with chewing, biting or speaking. Some irregularities, however, can be caused or aggravated by habits and behaviors, including:
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Finger or thumb sucking
  • Prolonged use of a pacifier
  • Bad oral hygiene practices
  • Bad nutrition

What is involved in a child getting braces?

The process starts with a visual exam by the dentist of the child’s teeth. Also, panoramic x-rays are taken and impressions or study models are taken of the teeth. Computer-generated images of the head and neck are usually created as well. This planning phase allows the orthodontist to decide on the most effective course of treatment.

The recommendation for children is often for “fixed” orthodontic braces. These are attached to the teeth and cannot be removed at will, forgotten or lost, meaning that successful treatment can be completed as quickly as possible. In some cases, removable appliances may be used. These are less intrusive and can treat various defects. The primary orthodontic devices used for children include:
  1. Fixed braces: These involve brackets that are attached to each individual tooth, connected together with an arch wire. Brackets are most commonly made of metal, ceramic or a clear material that is less noticeable. Once braces have been applied, adjustments are made during regular orthodontic appointments. In some cases, elastic bands are used to help speed movement of certain teeth.
  2. Headgear: This kind of appliance is most often used to correct developmental irregularities. It involves a custom-made appliance that is attached to wire and worn to help facilitate tooth movement. The headgear is usually worn for 12 to 20 hours each day and must be used as recommended for the best possible results.
  3. Retainers: Usually used in the retention phase of treatment, retainers are essential because they prevent teeth from regressing to their original misaligned positioning after treatment. Wearing a retainer allows the jawbone around the moved teeth to stabilize so proper alignment can be maintained.

To find out how braces can work for you or your child, call (619) 640-5100 for a free consultation with Dr. Paige Woods, DDS.