Kids grow up so quickly that many parents can find it difficult keeping up with their child’s development, especially when it comes to their oral health. As we covered previously at our Hazel Dell Dentistry 4 Children blog, children need to start visiting a dentist by the age of 1, or shortly after their first tooth emerges. But teething is only the start of your child’s oral health development, with many other important mileposts still to come.
One important area of development many parents have questions about involves getting braces. Why does a child need to wear braces? What age should a child start wearing braces? When do you know whether they will even need braces? How long will their treatment take? These are all important questions parents need to know the answer to in order to help maintain and improve their kids’ oral health.
To give you a better idea about what getting braces could mean for your child, here’s the basics about kids and braces.
Why Kids Wear Braces
Kids can need to start wearing braces for a variety of oral health reasons, including a crooked, crowded, or overlapping smile. Kids who deal with malocclusion, or bad bite, may also need to wear braces to improve their bite and make eating easier. Malocclusion is a condition that causes a size difference between the top and bottom jaws. When the upper jaw is bigger than the lower, it’s called an overbite. Flip it so that the lower jaw is bigger than the upper and a child has an underbite.
In some cases, a child’s tooth and jaw problems may be the result of losing their baby teeth at too young an age. While baby teeth may seem unimportant due to their temporary nature, they actually play an important role helping to guide other teeth into the correct position. When a child loses their baby teeth early, the neighboring teeth can begin to move out of position to fill the hole in their smile.
Habits like thumb sucking or an accident can also cause a child to lose their baby teeth early.
Dr. Lubisich can spot the signs of decay and disease during your child’s early visits, and can provide the treatment needed to prevent premature tooth loss. However, for patients already in need of care, Dr. Lubisich can refer them to Dr. Ryan Moses, our in-house orthodontist. After completing a thorough examination, Dr. Moses will determine whether a child requires orthodontic treatment and which type of braces would best meet their oral health needs.
While there’s no set age for when a child should receive their first orthodontic evaluation, the American Association of Orthodontists does recommend that a child receive an evaluation no later than the age of 7. At this age, issues such as overcrowding or an uneven bite should become obvious.
Just because you may start the orthodontic process early doesn’t mean your child will receive braces immediately. It just means that Dr. Moses will be able to create a custom treatment plan that will determine the right age for your child to start wearing braces.
The Trip to See an Orthodontist
A child’s first visit to see an orthodontist could potentially be scary for kids uncertain about what to expect. Fortunately, you can tell your kids there’s nothing to worry about, as a visit to see Dr. Moses is very similar to seeing Dr. Lubisich.
During this initial visit, Dr. Moses will examine the current state of your child’s oral health. After examining his or her teeth, gums, and bite, Dr. Moses may ask your child whether they’ve ever had problems chewing or swallowing, or if they hear any clicking or popping sounds when they open and close their jaws.
Dr. Moses may take x-rays of your child’s mouth to get a better idea of the positioning of their teeth and jaw and whether any more permanent teeth still need to develop. For patients in need of braces, Dr. Moses may take an impression of their teeth using a mold. When the mold is removed, they material inside hardens into a perfect replica of your child’s smile. Dr. Moses will use this mold to create the braces that will correct your child’s smile.
Choosing the Right Orthodontic Treatment
Parents will often have the option of selecting between traditional braces that feature brackets and wires and Invisalign clear plastic aligners. Both options have the ability to improve the long-term health of a child’s smile, and picking between the two may come down to personal preference. Dr. Moses can help you decide which type of orthodontic appliance is right for your child.
If you have any questions about what getting braces can mean for your child, feel free to ask any member of our staff during your next visit to Hazel Dell Dentistry 4 Children. Dr. Moses offers a free orthodontic consultation that can give you the answers needed to make the right decision about your child’s oral health.